Meeting Date:

September 22, 2008





Darby W. Fuerst




General Manager

Line Item No.:


Prepared By:

Henrietta Stern

Cost Estimate:



General Counsel Approval:  N/A

Committee Recommendation:  The Rules & Regulations Review Committee discussed this issue on August 4, 2008 and recommended that the full Board should consider a policy

CEQA Compliance:  N/A


SUMMARY:  The Board will consider a draft MPWMD Policy Regarding Installation of Dual Plumbing Systems (Exhibit 11-A) prepared by staff at the direction of the MPWMD Rules & Regulations Review Committee.  For many years, with rare exceptions such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the District’s administrative practice has been to deny requests to allow two water sources within one structure, for example, California American Water (CAW) and a non-CAW source such as a private well.  However, there has been no formal written policy.  Multiple supply sources have been allowed in separate structures on a site, such as CAW water for the main residence and non-CAW water for a separate, detached garage/office or guest house.  Multiple sources have also been allowed for non-potable uses, such as CAW service to the home along with CAW and/or well water or stored water in cisterns for landscape irrigation.  The District encourages cisterns and offers rebates for them as part of its conservation program. 


Given increasing requests for water permits with CAW and non-CAW water sources combined, staff believes a formal written policy is needed.  Staff requested that this concept be discussed by the MPWMD Rules & Regulations Review Committee at its August 4, 2008 meeting.  The Committee did not review a specific draft policy, but concurred that dual water sources should be considered, and that a formal written policy is needed that considers health issues, other agency regulations and proper water use monitoring.  The Committee also recommended that the policy be formulated as an ordinance.  On a related matter, the Committee also expressed support for future regulations that would support use of greywater.


To date, “greywater” (e.g., shower water or washing machine rinse water) has not been recognized as a viable source for indoor plumbing use, and use of greywater for indoor use is not allowed by the Monterey County Health Department (MCHD).  The MCHD has not actively regulated small-scale residential use of greywater for outdoor irrigation.  At the request of Director Doyle on September 8, 2008, the development of greywater as a significant, new, community water supply source for domestic use is addressed as a separate agenda item. 


RECOMMENDATIONS:  District staff recommends that the Board take the following actions on the dual plumbing issue:


·        Adopt the Draft policy provided as Exhibit 11-A, and offer text refinements as needed.  The proposed policy is different from current practice in that it would allow dual plumbing within a structure, but not combined sources of supply in one plumbing system.

·        Direct staff and Counsel to develop an ordinance that codifies this policy for Board consideration in the first quarter of 2009.

·        Direct staff to continue the current practice until an ordinance is adopted and in effect, that is, to not allow dual sources of supply within one structure at this time.  This will give staff time to coordinate with CAW, MCHD and other agencies in order to write an effective, defensible ordinance as well as prepare the proper forms, protocol and education for District and other agency staff.  It is noted that the staff recommendation is different than the MPWMD Rules and Regulations Review Committee recommendation that the policy be implemented immediately.


At its August 4, 2008 meeting, the MPWMD Rules & Regulations Review Committee supported the concept of dual plumbing within a structure, with adequate safeguards, but had not reviewed a specific draft policy document.  Please see the “Discussion” section for more information.


DISCUSSION:  As noted above, District administrative practice to date has been to not approve different sources of supply within a structure.  One prominent exception is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which uses a seawater source for toilet flushing.  The Aquarium already has a sophisticated water treatment and filtration system with professional operators, and the financial resources to maintain the system.  


Reasons for the current practice denying multiple sources of potable supply within a structure have included:


·        Potential contamination of CAW system due to mixing with an untreated, unregulated source (especially single-family residential well or other situations without professional operators and financial resources to maintain the system);

·        Inconsistency with County and/or State health regulations;

·        Potential to unlawfully use CAW water without a benefit of an MPWMD Water Permit for the portion of the building that should be served by non-CAW water (undetected source change is possible with minimal plumbing work);

·        Difficulty accurately estimating CAW or non-CAW use in a drought/rationing scenario.


MPWMD Rules & Regulations Review Committee

In the past two years, District staff has received several requests to use CAW and non-CAW sources within a structure.  District staff believes it is an appropriate time to formalize the existing practice or change the policy.  Thus, the District Rules & Regulations Review Committee (Edwards, Doyle and Markey) met on August 4, 2008 to discuss this issue.  


Dual Plumbing Systems:  The Committee agreed that the District should authorize the use of dual plumbing systems within a structure that utilize both a CAW potable water source and well water.  The committee requested that at the September 22, 2008 meeting, the full Board consider adoption of a policy that would allow the installation of dual plumbing systems within a structure.  The committee believed that the policy, if adopted, should be implemented immediately after Board approval.  Subsequently, an ordinance should be presented for Board consideration that would allow installation of dual plumbing systems only if each water source is separately metered; each water source is tested for acceptable water quality and sufficient production; and a deed restriction is filed that prohibits any interconnection between the two water sources or abandonment of either water source.  


Greywater Systems:  The committee expressed support for development of regulations that would promote the use of greywater systems in residential and commercial projects. Director Doyle presented information on SB 1258 (Lowenthal) that would establish building standards for installation of greywater systems throughout California. Director Doyle also volunteered to contact the office of Assemblymember John Laird and the office of Fifth District Supervisor David Potter to seek support and assistance with a cooperative effort to develop rules for installation of greywater systems that could be adopted by Monterey County and the District.   This issue will also be presented to the District’s Technical Advisory Committee.  The General Manager and staff met with Director Doyle on September 8, 2008.  At that meeting, it was agreed that pursuit of greywater sources is a longer-term effort and should be considered as a separate agenda item.


General Policy Issues

Several policy issues remain for the full Board to consider regarding a District policy on the use of dual sources of supply.  These include:


  • Will the MPWMD policy be consistent with MCHD/State health laws and be legal?  The District and MCHD try to coordinate policies and procedures to reduce the potential for applicants being caught between conflicting regulations.  Research is needed to better understand current County and State health regulations regarding alternative sources of supply, and to craft District policy to be consistent with these laws.  There is also the issue of the technical and financial ability of the permittee to construct and maintain a safe, reliable, non-CAW system, given the potential adverse consequences if the system fails.


  • Will this policy add to cumulative impact to Carmel River Watershed and Seaside Basin extractions? If non-CAW well use is encouraged to meet new construction or expansion needs, how would this policy affect (or be affected by) the SWRCB Cease and Desist Order and the Court Adjudication of the Seaside Groundwater Basin?


  • What if the non-CAW source becomes inoperable (such as well failure) and more CAW water than permitted is used due to the new fixtures existing in the home (e.g., new bathroom)?  A deed restriction can require a well owner to maintain the non-CAW system in good condition, but it cannot prevent the well from failing due to the vagaries of a fractured bedrock water source.  District Water Distribution System (WDS) permits require a rigorous testing process to show the high potential for a reliable well, but both County and District permits recognize the uncertainty associated with wells in hard rock formations.   Wells are known to become less productive over time.  Thus, if the alternative source of supply is no longer available, will greater CAW use be allowed?  Would the homeowner have to abandon water use in the part of the home (such as a third bathroom) that is no longer serviced by the alternative water source?


  • What is the impact to staff workload to implement and enforce the policy?  This policy creates a new category of permits and the potential need to carefully monitor CAW and non-CAW use within a structure.  Currently, there are no limits associated with CAW-based water permits, with no monitoring.  Production limits and monitoring are required for non-CAW WDS permits. 


With these concerns in mind, and based on the direction of the Rules & Regulations Review Committee, a Draft Policy is provided as Exhibit 11-A. 



11-A    Draft Policy on Installation of Dual Plumbing Systems (dated 9/15/08)