Consider Development of Recommendation to the Board on Preparation of Salinas and Carmel River Basin Study


Meeting Date:

February 8, 2017





Dave Stoldt,




General Manager





Prepared By:

Larry Hampson




SUMMARY:  In June 2015, the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) awarded a WaterSMART grant of $1.66 million for the Salinas and Carmel Rivers Basin Study (Basin Study).  The purpose of the SCRBS is to evaluate existing and potential future imbalances between water supplies and demands in the Salinas and Carmel River Basins and propose a range of strategies which may be employed to alleviate or mitigate identified imbalances.   There are four Non-Federal Partners (Partners) collaborating on this effort including the District, the San Luis Obispo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District (SLOFC&WCD), Monterey County Water Resources Agency (MCWRA), and the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency (MRWPCA).  The 4,500 square mile area encompassed by the study includes the Carmel River watershed, the Salinas River watershed into San Luis Obispo County, and the coastal area between the watersheds, including Marina and the Monterey Peninsula.


Reclamation developed a detailed Plan of Study (Exhibit 2-A) with input from the Partners.  This study effort is expected to be completed within 3.5 years from the date of execution of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Parties (Exhibit 2-B).  The Partners are expected to identify a 50% contribution toward development of the Study, or a minimum of $1.66 million.  This share can consist of in-kind services and costs of work since 2014 that would contribute to the Basin Study.  The May 2015 proposal from the Partners identified $3.2 million of in-kind services that could contribute toward the Basin Study.  More recently, the District updated this estimate and has approximately about $1.8 million of in-kind services that MPWMD and MRWPCA have already expended or are budgeted.  The Partners will also be contributing in-kind services.  During a December 16, 2016 conference call between the Parties, Reclamation stated that there would be no requirement for the Non-Federal Partners to provide additional funding for the Basin Study.


RECOMMENDATION:   The Committee should review the MOA and Plan of Study and consider whether to make a recommendation to the full Board about entering into the MOA and completing the Basin Study.


DISCUSSION:  Basin Studies are part of the WaterSMART Basin Study Program and are a key component of the Bureau of Reclamation's implementation of the SECURE Water Act (SWA) The WaterSMART Program addresses an increasing set of water supply challenges, including chronic water supply shortages due to increased population growth, climate variability and change, and heightened competition for finite water supplies. Through the Basin Studies, Reclamation partners with stakeholders to conduct studies that identify strategies for meeting future water demands in river basins in the West where imbalances in supply and demand exist or are projected.


The Partners have proposed to collaborate with Reclamation to complete the Basin Study, with technical contributions to be made by each partner, Reclamation, and the U.S.  Geological Survey (USGS).  As part of the Salinas and Carmel Rivers Basin Study, the USGS will downscale a global climate change model from a 100-kilometer grid to a 6 to 10 kilometer grid more appropriate for the highly varied topography of the Salinas and Carmel River watersheds.  A minimum of five climate change scenarios will be combined with a range of socioeconomic assumptions to model changes in water supply and demand to the year 2099. 


The Partners will be responsible for providing the data sets and numerical models each has developed and will assist Reclamation and the USGS to develop assumptions for future scenarios; however, Reclamation and the USGS will be carrying out modeling and drafting the Basin Study for the Partners to review.  It is expected that several MPWMD staff will be involved in providing data and reviewing various technical products.  In addition, MPWMD has retained Brown and Caldwell to provide assistance with certain Basin Study tasks as a cost not-to-exceed $45,000.



2-A      Draft Salinas and Carmel Rivers Basin Study Memorandum of Agreement

2-B      Plan of Study, Salinas and Carmel Rivers Basin Study