Meeting Date:

August 21, 2017





David J. Stoldt,


Aquatic Resources and


General Manager

Line Item No.:

Hydrologic Monitoring 2


Prepared By:

Kevan Urquhart

Cost Estimate:



General Counsel Review:  N/A

Committee Recommendation:  N/A

CEQA Compliance:  Consistent with SWRCB WR Order Nos. 95-10, 98-04, 2002-0002, and 20169-0016.

ESA Compliance:  Exempt from environmental review per SWRCB Order Nos. 95-10, 98-04, 2002-0002 and 2016-0016, and Section 15268 of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines, as a ministerial project; Exempt from Section 15307, Actions by Regulatory Agencies for Protection of Natural Resources.


SUMMARY:  Representatives from the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD), California American Water (Cal-Am), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) met on July 6 and again on July 25, 2017 to negotiate the terms and conditions for the 2017 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for releases and diversions from Los Padres Reservoir to the Carmel River.  As has been the case annually since 2010, concurrence was provided only on the minimum low-flow targets for 2017.  CDFW and Cal-Am have not yet concurred on additional operational notification language to the existing MOA and are still in negotiation over it. 


Based on current storage conditions and expected reservoir inflows, it was agreed that Cal-Am will maintain minimum flows in the Carmel River below Los Padres Dam (LPD) of 15.0 cubic feet per second (cfs) for August through November, relying on a combination of storage and the natural recovery of river base flows from above LPD, to sustain 15.0 cfs or more for December, and solely on the natural recovery of river base flows from above LPD, thereafter.  Inflows to LPD for July through September were estimated from averages of actual flows in 2010 reduced 8%  to better match the current flow recession pattern seen to date in 2017, whereas October through December inflows were conservatively represented by the median inflow for a “normal” Water Year Type. 


As was the case last year, it is infeasible to set targets maintaining minimum flows at the District’s Sleepy Hollow Weir gaging station, due to the variable and unpredictable effects of riparian diversions and summer temperatures on river flow.  Nevertheless, the aforementioned release targets below LPD are expected to potentially produce minimum flows at the Sleepy Hollow Weir of between 14.7 to 16.2 cfs during August through November, then potentially returning to estimated natural river flows of as much as 25.2 cfs in December 2017. 


The “above normal” streamflow conditions to date in 2017 are projected to be representative of what can be expected for the remainder of the year, but the agencies decided to be more conservative and use “normal’ streamflow conditions for low flow season planning. 


Cal-Am ceased diversions from its wells upstream of the Narrows by July 31st, when Carmel River flow at the District’s Don Juan Bridge gaging station in Garland Park dropped below 20 cfs for five consecutive days.  These actions conform to State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) Order 2002-0002 and the 2001 NMFS Conservation Agreement with Cal-Am.  The Draft 2017 MOA is included as Exhibit 8-A.


RECOMMENDATION:  Staff recommends that the Board approve the 2017 MOA and direct the General Manager to sign the agreement. 


BACKGROUND:  Past MOAs determined minimum flow releases to the Carmel River below San Clemente Dam during the low-flow period (i.e., generally May through December), and the District entered annually into an agreement with Cal-Am and CDFW.  Historically, the MOA specified the minimum release that must be maintained from San Clemente Reservoir to the Carmel River and the maximum diversion that was allowed from San Clemente Reservoir to Cal-Am’s Carmel Valley Filter Plant (CVFP). 


Cal-Am’s ability to divert surface flow at San Clemente Dam or control outflow at that point is precluded forevermore by the implementation of the final year of the San Clemente Dam Removal and River Reroute Project completed in 2015.  Absent a flow control structure at River Mile 18.61, the MOA must now be managed based on releases from Los Padres Dam at River Mile 24.80.   


Based on current reservoir storage and projected “above normal” LPR inflow conditions for most of the remainder of Calendar Year 2017, it was agreed by all parties at the June 25, 2017 meeting that Cal-Am would:


a)      follow the natural pattern of LPR inflow recession in July, then

b)      maintain a minimum flow of 15.0 cfs for August through November from LPD to the Carmel River (as measured at MPWMD’s Below Los Padres Gage), and

c)      rely on the natural recovery of river base flows from above LPR, thereafter, in order to sustain an estimated natural river flows of 15.0 cfs or more in December 2017 (as measured at MPWMD’s Below Los Padres Gage).


The projected monthly inflows, releases, diversions and storage values for the August - December 2017 period are shown on Attachment A of Exhibit 8-A.  The parties will continue to monitor runoff throughout the year and may meet either in August or September to reconsider whether or not any further modifications are needed, if actual inflow and storage differ from the expectations.  Attachment A of Exhibit 8-A also includes actual values for the October 2016 through June 2017 period, which are shown in bold type.[1] 


To maximize the instream flow benefits from the proposed releases, the 2017 MOA also includes a condition that limits the amount of water pumped from Cal-Am's production wells in the Upper Carmel Valley (i.e., above the Narrows) to levels required for maintenance of the wells (Exhibit 8-B).  This limitation and schedule also applies to the former Water West wells that are now owned and operated by Cal-Am.  Similarly, the MOA includes a provision that Cal-Am will make all reasonable efforts to operate its Lower Carmel Valley production wells beginning with the most downstream well and moving to upstream wells as needed to meet system demand.  This provision is consistent with Condition No. 5 of SWRCB Order 95-10.


While all parties agreed to the minimum flow targets shown in Attachment A of Exhibit 8-A, CDFW and Cal-Am did not discuss or agree to additional language requiring faster notification of any operational changes to the Cal-Am system that could result in the need to accelerate or expand fish rescues.  CDFW provided draft language in 2010 that Cal-Am rejected, which resulted in the 2010 through 2016 Low Flow MOAs not being signed by CDFW.   Cal-Am complied with the Low-Flow MOA targets in 2010 through 2016.  District staff provided alternative draft language at a January 26, 2011 meeting which Cal-Am rejected as overly specific and unworkable.  Cal-Am’s current position is that CDFW must demonstrate the legal nexus requiring that such additional language be included in future Low Flow MOAs.  Even if the Low Flow MOA shown in Exhibit 8-A is only signed by the District and Cal-Am, and not CDFW, as was the case in 2010 - 2016, we expect Cal-Am will once again comply with the low-flow targets for 2017.


The proposed MOA may be modified by mutual consent of all the parties and will be monitored weekly by representatives of the three parties.  It should be noted that the releases and operations specified in the MOA are consistent with the releases and diversions that were proposed in the Quarterly Water Supply Strategy and Budget for Cal-Am for the July-September 2017 period, on June 8, 2017.  If approved, the 2017 MOA becomes effective August 1, 2017, and extends through December 31, 2017.


IMPACT ON STAFF AND FISCAL RESOURCES:  Due to the current “above normal” inflows that are likely to continue for the remainder of the year, the lower river is losing surface flow but has not yet begun drying-up after the last significant storms of the year between April 7- 18, 2017.  LPD ceased spilling on August 2, 2017.  Roving steelhead rescue efforts in the tributaries began on May 5, 2017, but main-stem rescues have not yet been initiated.  District staff do not know whether we will need to do very many main stem fish rescues or operate the District’s Sleepy Hollow Steelhead Rearing Facility (SHSRF) in 2017, since minimum flows foreseeable for the Water Year could keep the river flowing to the lagoon for the remainder of 2017, as was the case in 2011. 



8-A      Draft 2017 Memorandum of Agreement between the State of California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California American Water, and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District to Release Water into the Carmel River from Los Padres Reservoir

8-B      Maintenance and Water Quality Pumping Schedule, 2017





[1] Bold type indicates final estimates and italic type indicates preliminary estimates.