(PDFs unless otherwise noted)
MCWD to Add 3 Million Gallons of Water Storage, Mar 22, 2021
Aerial View of the Storage Site
Van Der Maaten Announcement, Nov 3, 2020
CAL-AM's Mixed Message, Oct 5, 2020
Opposition to CAL-AM Desalination Project, Oct 1, 2020
Publication of Stanford Groundwater Study, Sep 16, 2020
Pure Water Monterey Guaranteed Water Sources, Sep 9, 2020
August Coastal Commission Staff Report, Aug 31, 2020
Peter Mayer Supplemental Water Report on Supply and Demand, Jul 6, 2020
Peter Mayer Water Report on Supply and Demand, May 18, 2020
Keith Van Der Maaten, General Manager
Marina Coast Water District
On August 15, 2019, the Marina Coast Water District (MCWD) filed a lawsuit against the County of Monterey and Cal Am in Monterey Superior Court seeking a writ of mandate and injunctive relief to restrain the construction of Cal Am's desal plant until the County complies with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Water Code, and State Planning and Zoning law. The lawsuit was filed in response to the Monterey County Board of Supervisors' July 15, 2019 approval of a use permit for the desal plant before the County completed the required environmental review and before Cal-Am demonstrated it had water rights or permits for the slant wells that are the only proposed water source for desal plant.
"We have filed this suit to ensure the project doesn't move forward until all impacts, water rights, mitigations, and alternatives can be evaluated using the most current information," explained Keith Van Der Maaten, General Manager of MCWD. "We need to find the best solution for the entire region."
On July 15, after hearing appeals by MCWD and Public Water Now from the Planning Commission's narrow 6-4 vote to approve Cal-Am's desal plant, the Board of Supervisors approved Cal Am's desal plant by a narrow 3-to-2 margin, allowing Cal Am to proceed with construction of the desal plant.
MCWD's appeal provided detailed comments from recognized experts explaining that the Board must perform supplemental environmental review to evaluate new information that shows the groundwater impacts from Cal Am's desal project would be substantially more severe than those analyzed in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that was previously certified by the CPUC. MCWD also explained that State law required the County to consider viable alternatives to Cal Am's desal project that were not evaluated in the EIR, including the expansion of the Pure Water Monterey (PWM) project. The PWM expansion alternative could provide water in time to meet the CDO deadline and a surplus for future growth for the Monterey Peninsula at a much lower cost to Cal-Am's ratepayers. It also avoids the significant environmental impacts caused by Cal Am's desal project.
"It is noteworthy that Supervisors Adams and Parker voted against the approval of the permit requested by Cal Am. These two supervisors represent the Peninsula and Marina/Ord Communities that will be directly impacted by this desal plant. Unfortunately, Salinas Valley Supervisors Alejo, Lopez and Phillips appeared to be more interested in rushing to a decision and disregarding information that CEQA requires them to consider." commented Dr. Tom Moore, President of the Board at Marina Coast.
MCWD has long contested the project over concerns that the project threatens the groundwater supply for residents in Marina and the Ord communities. The Cal Am Desal Project plans to draw 16,000 acre-feet a year from the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin, which has already been designated as critically over-drafted by the State Department of Water Resources. Cal Am has no water rights to this water.
"This project's slant wells will not pump seawater from the ocean. They will pump groundwater directly from the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin", said Keith Van Der Maaten. "It will pump from an aquifer that we know contains groundwater that is recharging the basin for drinking water purposes and acting as a barrier to prevent further seawater intrusion. The project would remove the groundwater we depend on and replace it with seawater, which would be a disaster for Marina."
"Public Water Now strongly supports MCWD in this suit," said PWN Director Melodie Chrislock. "The Peninsula can't afford and does not need Cal Am's desal. The Pure Water Monterey expansion gives us the water we need for growth at a fraction of the cost. Economically and environmentally the PWM expansion is the better project. Over the next 30 years, this desal project would cost Peninsula ratepayers $1.2 billion, whereas the Pure Water Monterey Expansion would cost $175 million. Cal Am's desal is a billion-dollar rip off of Peninsula ratepayers. It's just about profit for Cal Am."
Keith Van Der Maaten, general manager for Marina Coast Water District, was among the presenters on April 11 and April 17 at Citizens for Just Water, an activist group made up of Marina residents, forums titled "Marina/Fort Ord Water: CODE RED." He spoke on how Cal Am's desalination project would both harm Marina's groundwater supplies, and result in massive rate increases to Cal Am ratepayers. Read the full story at Monterey County Weekly.
Keith also did an extended interview with Mark Carbonaro that aired April 29 on KION Radio. Listen to the program (27 minutes) using the player below.
The Marina Coast Water District (MCWD) has secured a $1 million grant through state Proposition 1 funding that will be used to bolster management of the Monterey and 180/440 foot Aquifer Subbasins which are the primary sources of water for the Marina and Ord Communities.
During the height of the recent drought, the State passed legislation (Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014) to implement management plans for all groundwater basins to ensure their sustainability. Under the terms of that law, MCWD has become a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) in the Monterey and 180/440 Foot Aquifer Subbasins and is responsible for achieving groundwater sustainability within these subbasins in the next 20 years. MCWD will work collaboratively with other entities responsible for groundwater management and other GSA's, including the Salinas Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency, to create Groundwater Sustainability Plans and carry out this critical initiative.
"We are very pleased to have the confidence and support of the State behind us which will allow us to better understand and manage this precious resource," said Keith Van Der Maaten, General Manager. "The creation of Groundwater Sustainability Plans is an important project for our region's long-term water supply solution and we're excited to engage the community through this process," he continued.
The interconnection between the various subbasins that supply the Monterey Region are not completely understood. The grant funds will be utilized to generate the data, technical studies, analysis, and obtain community engagement to provide scientifically-based solutions to address seawater intrusion, decreased reliance on groundwater, potential impacts of climate change, and future demands including the redevelopment at the former Fort Ord Army Base.
The Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the 180/400 Subbasin must be submitted for state approval by 2020 and by 2022 for the Monterey Subbasin.
The Marina Coast Water District (MCWD) has received a $10,513,217 Proposition 1 (the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund) low-interest loan and grant for the Regional Urban Water Augmentation Project (RUWAP), a recycled water transmission and distribution system. The RUWAP will serve both the MCWD Water Augmentation Program and Pure Water Monterey, as the two agencies combine their projects for the construction of one transmission pipeline spanning ten miles.
"This loan and grant award is another step forward in our commitment to provide new water supply sources for customers and for the region," said Keith Van Der Maaten, General Manager of MCWD. "We are constantly evaluating and developing new ways to preserve and protect our water supply, to develop new sources for the future and emerge as a leader in collaboration and problem solving in the region."
MCWD already completed the engineering and design for RUWAP and started construction on several sections of the transmission pipeline since the project was first approved in 2006 and the EIR was updated and recertified in 2015. Along with building the pipeline, MCWD has approved plans to construct a storage reservoir – The Blackhorse Recycled Water Reservoir – and distribution pipes to deliver advanced treated water to existing and planned urban irrigation facilities.
The major phase of construction will now begin, and MCWD has awarded a contract to Mountain Cascade, Inc. in the amount of $22,648,480 to build the RUWAP pipeline and the Blackhorse Recycled Water Reservoir. Throughout the construction process, Mountain Cascade and MCWD will keep the community informed on progress and potential traffic impacts with neighborhood door hangers and posted construction alerts on a new website under development for the community, ruwap.info
The goal of the RUWAP Recycled Water Project is to provide 1,427 acre feet per year of water from sources other than groundwater within the District and up to 3,700 acre feet of Pure Water to the Monterey Peninsula. The pipeline will initially deliver 600 acre feet of advance treated water to MCWD customers in Marina and the Ord Community. The advanced treated water will be suitable for direct injection into the Seaside Groundwater Basin for indirect potable reuse. This water will be of higher quality than tertiary treated and disinfected recycled water, and may be used for urban landscape irrigation reducing the District's reliance on groundwater.
Marina, CA – To promote collaboration, the Marina Coast Water District (MCWD) has signed a Coordination Agreement with the Salinas Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency (SVBGSA) to facilitate a positive working relationship and streamline efforts and resources moving forward. As part of the agreement, both agencies will join forces to apply for grant funds with MCWD being the responsible party for submitting proposals and applications for the Monterey Subbasin and the SVBGSA responsible for submitting the application for the 180/400 Subbasin. The agencies will also form a new coordination committee including representatives from MCWD and SVBGSA, and will share data and resources.
In 2015, the California Department of Water Resources granted MCWD exclusive Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) status in the Monterey Subbasin and the 180/400 Subbasin. Becoming the exclusive GSA is part of MCWD's ongoing commitment to protecting ratepayers, defending groundwater rights, maintaining and improving infrastructure and fulfilling its obligation to provide safe drinking water at affordable rates. MCWD also has invested in research and geohydrology studies to monitor and manage groundwater, and the GSA will continue such efforts to make sound decisions based on science.
As a GSA, MCWD is committed to working with other GSAs and stakeholders in the region, including SVBGSA. Both entities will operate in an open and inclusive process under the Coordination Agreement to gather input from the community and obtain necessary technical advice regarding groundwater sustainability issues.
Beginning May 14, 2017, residents of Marina, Neponset, Castroville, Moss Landing, Blanco, and Salinas, may see a low-flying helicopter towing a large hexagonal frame. This unique equipment is part of a project to map groundwater aquifers and subsurface geology in the area.
Lasting up to 5 days (unless delayed by weather), instruments mounted below the helicopter will collect and record measurements to learn more about buried sand and gravel aquifers. Marina Coast Water District, working with Aqua Geo Frameworks and researchers from Stanford's Department of Geophysics have planned the flights to improve understanding of the available groundwater resources. This technology allows for more complete data acquisition from the air, upwards of 50 to 75 miles per hour, with exploration depths down to at least 900 feet below the land surface. Aqua Geo Frameworks and Stanford researchers will process the data and information, and produce a final report.
The Marina Coast Water District has commissioned this study to better understand and manage the groundwater basins that supply its customers. The data generated from the study will provide a far more comprehensive and clear understanding of the degree to which sea water has or hasn't intruded into basins allowing the District to manage its resources based on the best available scientific data. It is expected the study will fill key gaps in data, provide a far more accurate picture of the quality of the groundwater, and prepare the District with the necessary information to include in a Groundwater Sustainability Plan. Since data can only be collected over open spaces, no data collection will occur over residential areas or other buildings.
Sinton Helicopters, based out of Paso Robles, California, will oversee the flights. The helicopter will fly lines over a flight path designed to get the best available data from the subsurface. Scientific equipment, towed about 100 feet above the ground surface, hangs about 100 feet below the helicopter in a 'spider web' array and is designed to map geologic structures beneath the ground. The helicopter will be manned by very experienced pilots who are specially trained for low-level flying with this equipment. The helicopter company operates under FAA unlimited part 135 unscheduled air-taxi operations, part 133 a,b,c and d external loads, and part 137 agriculture dispersal.
Residents of the Marina Coast Water District remain diligent in their water conservation efforts actually increasing already high savings rates while most of the state saw modest declines. Marina Coast Water District conservations rates for July went from 31.1% in 2015 to 34.6% this year in comparison to 2013 usage levels. The trend held steady in August 2016 with Districtwide conservation rates at 34.8% (3.6% higher than August 2015) which is among the top 5% of 398 reported water agencies.
The State Water Resources Control Board recently announced statewide water conservation efforts held steady for the month of July 2016 at 20% which is down 1% from the month prior. In May, the State Water Resources Control Board relaxed the statewide mandated percentage approach in favor of locally identified targets.
"Conservation has been a way of life in this area and a focus of MCWD for more than 15 years and I am proud to say our residents are among the top in the state," said Keith Van Der Maaten, Marina Coast Water District General Manager.
The August conservation data are encouraging in light of the fact the District went from a Mandatory Stage 3 conservation level to a voluntary Stage 2 goal. To achieve Marina Coast Water District's Stage 2 goals, customers are asked to practice the following voluntary irrigation practices:
In August, the Marina Coast Water District (MCWD) board accepted a recommendation to move from Stage 3 Water Conservation water use restriction(s) to voluntary Stage 2 regulations.
The move from Stage 3 mandatory water use to Stage 2 voluntary water use, removes the Districts' two day per week landscape irrigation restrictions. However, all state mandated water use restrictions, primarily for municipal and commercial customers, are still in full effect.
The State Mandated water use restrictions are:
To achieve Marina Coast Water District's Stage 2 goals, customers are asked to practice the following voluntary irrigation practices:
"Our ratepayers have a great record of saving water on a voluntary basis, and have enabled MCWD to consistently exceed our own internal and state-mandated conservation goals," said Keith Van der Maaten, General Manager of MCWD. "MCWD still values conservation as its priority, along with ensuring sustainable future supply, and we will continue to work with ratepayers and stakeholders to conserve this vital resource."
In May, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted a statewide approach that replaced the prior percentage reduction-based water conservation standard with a localized "stress test" approach that mandates urban water suppliers act now to ensure at least a three year supply of water to their customers under drought conditions.
"Drought conditions are far from over, but have improved enough that we can step back from our unprecedented top-down target setting," said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus.
The District will be testing water samples for lead and copper from selected customer's indoor taps beginning in late August. Every three years the District is required to determine the amount of lead and copper present in tap water derived from indoor pipes, faucet fixtures and solder materials. (Previous tests revealed that MCWD's water supply has not exceeded the action level for lead and copper.)
If you provided water samples in 2013, you will be asked to participate again in the monitoring program.
For more information, please call District Water Quality Laboratory Supervisor Thomas Barkhurst at 384-6131.
A short video on lead and copper sampling produced by the American Water Works is embedded below.
Incentives are now available for rainwater catchment ... Details
The District's Water Shortage Contingency Plan is developed in compliance with California Water Code Section 10632. Read the plan (PDF)
On January 17, 2014, Governor Brown proclaimed a State of Emergency to focus Californians' attention on the need to conserve water. The Governor is asking that all citizens immediately reduce water use by 20 percent. More info and conservation tips (PDF)
Additional Information and Resources:
Trees and water are both precious resources. Trees make our houses feel like home–they also improve property values, clean our water and air, and even make our streets safer and quieter. When we water wisely and maintain our trees carefully, we enjoy a wide range of benefits at a low cost and with little effort. Be water-wise. It's easy.Here's how (PDF from Invest from the Ground Up a project of the California Urban Forests Council).
Current and previous issues are available below as PDFs.