Carmel Valley Association Water Committee

Position Paper - Recommendation to Monterey Peninsula
Water Management District

April 15, 2011

RECOMMENDATION:

Carmel Valley Association Water Committee recommends that the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District undertake the development of a contingency plan for the supply of water to the Peninsula in the event that the Regional Project cannot meet the schedule and budget expectations on which its approval was based.

Furthermore, we recommend that the development of such a plan be done in conjunction with a series of public meetings, with in-depth information about the various components of the developing plan presented at each meeting.

BACKGROUND:

The history of water supply development for the Peninsula is a sorry tale of pinning hopes on one bad idea after another. Plan after plan has failed for a variety of reasons. Now we are dependent on the success of the Regional Project, which will be owned by Marina Coast Water District and Monterey County Water Resources Agency. The Regional Project was approved over the objections of critics who pointed out problems with water rights, groundwater export, governance and fiscal oversight. Yet, as it was the plan chosen by Monterey Peninsula Water Management District and Monterey County Water Resources Agency and, as there was no alternative plan, the Peninsula cities and the California Public Utilities Commission supported it.

Several threats have developed that raise serious concerns that the Regional Project may not succeed in meeting the Peninsula water demands in time to comply with the requirements of the State Water Resources Control Board's Cease and Desist Order. Two lawsuits have been filed, ethics issues have been raised concerning decisions of Monterey County Water Resources Agency's board and a financial analyst has indicated that financing may only be possible at junk bond interest rates. The issues of water rights and the groundwater export ban from the Salinas Valley are still unresolved and there are many permits that still must be received.

THE CONTINGENCY PLAN:

A contingency plan for the Regional Project is required under the law (footnote 1). However, as it now stands, the only option if the Regional Project fails to meet the schedule is to continue to pump from the CalAm wells and be subject to fines from the State Water Resources Control Board.

There are several developments in the water supply picture that are quite positive. The initial findings from the Aquifer Storage and Recovery project indicate that the reliability of the Aquifer Storage and Recovery project in the Seaside aquifer and that the Aquifer Storage and Recovery project contribution can be increased over the size indicated in the Regional Project. Also, Groundwater Storage of recycled water, which was once considered in the Regional Project and then moved to Phase 2, could contribute 2700 acre feet per year. The use of reclaimed water for landscape irrigation was excluded from the Regional Project and should be considered. As desal is the most expensive water source, all alternatives should be fully exploited before deciding on the final size of the desal element. Monterey Peninsula Water Management District's 95-10 project continues to show potential as a source of desalinated water. In addition, other private desalination developments should be evaluated.

THE PUBLIC FORUM:

The Peninsula public wants and needs information. Much of the public discourse is replete with misinformation and disinformation and some important decisions have been propelled by misguided public opinion. Most citizens do not really know what the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District does, or even why it exists. To some, it appears that the District has lost sight of its mission.

The CVA Water Committee strongly believes that it is time to take a proactive stance and use your management team to meet these important information needs. A series of public meetings, say once a month, that initially covers an overview of the water supply picture and then analyzes the individual components, such as ground water recovery, Aquifer Storage and Recovery project, and desalination would go a long way in gaining the credibility and support that will be essential if the Regional Project becomes infeasible. An experienced professional facilitator should facilitate the meetings. At the end of the series of meetings, opinion leaders in the community will understand a contingency plan and the potential role of Monterey Peninsula Water Management District in the event of default of the Regional Project.

Meetings like this would give the public a chance to learn the full scope and importance of Monterey Peninsula Water Management District's activities and to see your very competent staff in action.

The people of the Carmel Valley have a special interest in finding a solution to the water supply problem. The health of the Carmel River and its associated groundwater basins is inextricably linked to the ecological health of the valley and its livability.


Roger J. Dolan (sig.)
CVA Water Committee
Member
Roger J. Dolan P.E

Todd Norgaard (sig.)
CVA Water Committee
Chair
Todd Norgaard