Over the years, many government agencies have transitioned from
the “rainfall year” to a “water year” designation. Hydrologists
define a water year as the 12-month period that starts Oct. 1
and continues through Sept. 30 the following year. The state’s
water managers and hydrologists tend to like the water year
designation because October usually has the least amount of
stream and river flows, and it tends to center on the months in
which California receives most of its rainfall.
California American Water officials are defending the company’s
proposed desalination project in response to the Monterey
Peninsula Water Management District’s move last month to
formally oppose it at the Coastal Commission in favor of a
proposed recycled water expansion.
Signing off on a historic deal with its wealthiest — and
thirstiest — neighbor, the Santa Barbara City Council voted 6-0
to ship a supply of the city’s drinking water to Montecito
every year for the next 50 years, rain or shine.
“We are extremely alarmed by this proposal, especially during
this period of economic crisis,” wrote Carolyn Larson in a
letter to the Goleta Water District, protesting the rate hikes
voted in on June 23. Public outcry against the water rate
increase proposed by the district reached a fever pitch, but
ultimately too few protested to rescind the proposal
It seems some are willing to wait forever for a new water
supply. After 25 years of failure, they still trust Cal Am to
come up with a solution. But the Monterey Peninsula Water
Management District is clearly done waiting. Last Monday, the
district board withdrew its support for Cal Am’s proposed desal
Two days after a Paso Robles vegetation fire escaped the
Salinas Riverbed and destroyed two homes, 35th District
Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham slammed regional water officials
in a letter alleging that regulators had “stymied” city efforts
to clear the river of flammable vegetation.
For the first time, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management
District has formally expressed opposition to the California
American Water desalination project, backing the proposed Pure
Water Monterey recycled water project expansion instead… At
the same time, the district took another step toward potential
acquisition of Cal Am’s Monterey water system with the release
of a draft environmental impact report on the proposed public
To a large extent, the fate of several multi-million dollar
water projects on the Monterey Peninsula is in the hands of the
California Coastal Commission. The question is whether the
commission will grant a development permit for a desalination
plant proposed by California American Water…
The passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act
(SGMA) in 2014, granted the state official oversight authority
of groundwater. … A new paper published in Society and
Natural Resources, examines how the state’s ongoing involvement
helped shape current policies by looking at the 120-year
history of California’s role in groundwater management…
Water agencies in California typically include water recycling
in their water supply portfolios, but the ones that serve
smaller populations may not be able to implement full-blown
reuse programs all at once. The City of Paso Robles, home to
approximately 30,000 residents, shows it’s possible to build
water resilience without building an advanced purification
USGS spokesman Paul Laustsen said the May 21 incident along
Pilarcitos Creek was just the most recent vandalism of the Half
Moon Bay stream gage. The vandalism only stopped the flow of
data for two days; the gage has since been replaced. He said
equipment vandalism is a big prob-lem for the agency all across
Thousands of people in Marina are being blocked from full
representation on the board of a regional water agency, a
casualty of a larger battle over the water future of the
Monterey Peninsula. The agency is Monterey One Water, and it is
responsible for treating sewage.
Recognizing the recovery of Coho salmon in central California’s
streams and rivers as a high priority, the California
Department of Fish and Wildlife is collaborating with NOAA’s
National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, and other partner agencies and non-governmental
organizations to develop and implement recovery actions. The
tricky part is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to
saving the species.
Paso Robles has an oversupply of wine grapes, according to
growers and winemakers. That’s an existing problem that’s been
exacerbated by COVID-19. … According to Jerry Lohr, owner of
J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, and some others in the wine
industry, there’s never been a better time to talk about
creating a fallowing program for the North County region, which
overlies the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin.
A Pure Water Monterey expansion proposal has narrowly survived
another attempt to shelve it indefinitely even as the main
recycled water project struggles with operational and cost
issues that have further postponed its water delivery date and
hampered its capacity.
Over email, local water activists concocted a secret plan to
derail a vote that would potentially kill one water project and
bolster the prospects of another. The idea was to stage a
“filibuster” of the Monterey One Water board meeting scheduled
for Tuesday, May 26.
In April, during the first full month of the lockdown, water
demand on the Monterey Peninsula dropped by 15 percent compared
to the same month a year ago, according to data provided to the
Weekly by local water regulators.
Monterey Peninsula water officials Monday allocated additional
water for a portion of a major Monterey housing project that
promises to bring scores of new affordable units to a city in
desperate need of housing for its beleaguered workforce.
The board of Monterey One Water recently voted not to certify a
supplemental environmental impact report (SEIR) for an
expansion of Pure Water Monterey. While the expansion was a
technical concept that might provide additional water for the
Peninsula, the Board action injected some much-needed clear
thinking and foresight into a critical topic for the Monterey
For decades, sediment buildup in California’s Butano Creek
caused an array of issues for both fish and people. It flooded
roads and local communities, prevented steelhead and coho
salmon from migrating, and contributed to substantial die-offs
of fish. In October 2019, the NOAA Restoration Center and
partners finished a $7 million effort to remove the sediment
and restore the creek.
In March, the California Department of Water Resources released
a nearly completed draft report on the risk of water shortage
in rural areas and the drought vulnerability of small systems.
… Across the state, Monterey County is among the most
vulnerable counties, with one of the largest numbers of highly
impacted rural communities, according to the report. Also, the
county’s small water systems are on average the 13th most
vulnerable out of those of 58 counties.
In principle, evaluating the adequacy of these plans to achieve
sustainability should also be simple: Does the anticipated
reduction in pumping plus increase in recharge equal or exceed
the basin’s long-term rate of overdraft? In practice, however,
it’s not so simple.
Monterey Peninsula Water Management District officials have
requested the Monterey One Water board certify the Pure Water
Monterey expansion project supplemental environmental impact
report within 30 days and is withholding more than $600,000
representing part of its share of the environmental review.
These activists say farmers unfairly dominated groundwater
sustainability meetings and ultimately steered the planning
process in their favor. If the plans are accepted and
implemented, they warn, farmers will keep pumping water at
unsustainable rates. “All the plans we’ve looked at are going
to cause wells to go dry,” said Amanda Monaco, the water policy
coordinator for the Leadership Counsel for Justice and
A proposed Pure Water Monterey expansion at the center of a
contentious debate over the future of the Monterey Peninsula’s
water supply hit a huge roadblock on Monday night, leaving its
future in serious doubt.
The Lake Nacimiento water pipeline, which delivers supplemental
drinking water to several local communities including the city
of San Luis Obispo, has been out of commission since September
after leaks were discovered in a segment of the 45-mile pipe
that traverses the Salinas River.
In February 2020, the Water Board adopted new, lower Response
Levels for PFOA and PFOS of 10 ppt and 40 ppt, respectively.
Four of wells previously sampled under the Water Board’s order
now had had PFOA levels above this newly adopted Response Level
of 10 ppt. Atascadero Mutual Water Company immediately took
these wells out of service.
Amid continuing debate over the role the proposed Pure Water
Monterey recycled water project expansion will play in the
Monterey Peninsula’s water supply, the proposal has reached a
key stage. On Monday, the Monterey One Water board is scheduled
to consider certifying a final supplemental environmental
impact report for the expansion project…
In many areas of the Central Valley and Central Coast, decades
of intensive agriculture has resulted in groundwater too
polluted to drink, and wells that have gone dry from
over-pumping. More than one million people in these regions
lack a source of clean water in their homes. This is a hardship
even in the best of times, but it puts communities at extremely
high risk during this time of crisis.
The Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency has been working
toward sustainable management of the Pajaro Valley’s water
resources. At the 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, General
Manager Brian Lockwood discussed the projects and programs the
Agency is implementing as they work towards achieving
From the safety of their coronavirus shelters, the water
warriors of the Monterey Peninsula carry on the fight, and so
can you. … The environmental merits of removing the local
water system from private ownership and placing it under the
control of a government agency will be discussed in a virtual
public scoping meeting on April 21 at 5pm, via Zoom video
Federal and regional operators of Southern California’s
Twitchell Dam lost their bid to dismiss claims the dam causes
unlawful killing of endangered steelhead trout, but they won’t
face an emergency injunction restricting their operations, a
federal judge ruled Friday.
From the safety of their coronavirus shelters, the water
warriors of the Monterey Peninsula carry on the fight, and so
can you. … The environmental merits of removing the local
water system from private ownership and placing it under the
control of a government agency will be discussed in a virtual
public scoping meeting on April 21 at 5pm, via Zoom video
Since this year marked the first since 1862 that not a single
drop of rain fell in Santa Cruz County during the month of
February, efforts to sustainably manage water were at the
forefront of the conversation. The symposium kicked off with an
introduction from County Supervisor Bruce McPherson, who
discussed the ongoing work to develop sustainable groundwater
Local agencies in the most depleted groundwater basins in
California spent months putting together plans to show how they
will achieve balance in about 20 years. Now, after submitting
those plans to the state in January, groundwater sustainability
agencies (GSAs) must figure how to pay for them.
A full environmental review of a proposed public buyout of
California American Water’s local water system is underway
despite the coronavirus pandemic that a top Monterey Peninsula
Water Management District official says has slowed work on the
Sierra Ryan is a water resources planner with the County of
Santa Cruz. In this presentation from the Groundwater Resources
Association‘s 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, Ms. Ryan tells
the story of how the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency
balanced the various perspectives, authorities, and
interpretations of the DWR regulations in writing the portion
of their Groundwater Sustainability Plan that pertained to the
depletion of interconnected surface water.
Most of the 6,000 gallons of crude oil that was spilled into
the Cuyama River in Santa Maria has been contained. … A
tanker truck carrying more than 6,000 gallons of crude oil
overturned and crashed into the Cuyama River east of Santa
Maria on Saturday, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire
The Pajaro Valley enjoys a temperate microclimate, in part
because it is situated at the hip of Monterey Bay. … But the
Pajaro Valley is different from the rest of the big ag regions
in California. The loamy soil isn’t irrigated with massive
surface water infrastructure like in the Central Valley.
Both water companies that serve Salinas will halt all water
shutoffs during the state of emergency brought on by the
COVID-19 pandemic. Salinas has a large population of
hospitality workers that commute to the Monterey Peninsula
daily; the hospitality industry has been one of the hardest-hit
by the coronavirus as health officials urge “social distancing”
and the closure of large gatherings. As such, many residents
may find themselves short on funds as the pandemic wears on.
The City of Morro Bay is getting a $62 million loan from the
Environmental Protection Agency to replace its aging wastewater
treatment plant. The new facility will be located near the
intersection of South Bay Blvd. and Highway 1.
A settlement was reached Wednesday in a federal lawsuit filed
by an environmental group accusing Pacific Coast Energy Co. of
illegally discharging polluted water from an Orcutt oil
facility into northern Santa Barbara County waterways and
threatening endangered species.
A multi-partner water recycling project is helping Monterey,
Calif., stabilize and replenish its dwindling groundwater
supply. The project could serve as a model for shrinking
aquifers in other regions of the country.
People on both sides of the oil argument met Wednesday night in
Santa Maria, sharing their opinions about the future of oil
drilling on the Central Coast. The meeting was one of 10 that
the California Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy
Management Division (CalGEM) is hosting.
Seawater intrusion in the Salinas Valley continues to seep into
the deeper aquifers, according to the latest Monterey County
Water Resources Agency data, even as the overall rate of
seawater intrusion continues slowing down.
California’s coast is truly a treasure for residents and
visitors alike. Sadly, rising seas are washing away our beach,
and for every inch of sand lost, our opportunities for joy —
and our economic future — similarly shrink.
At a time when Del Mar, Pacifica and other coastal cities are
fighting to defend their homes and roads from the rising sea,
Marina has embarked on a path less traveled. Here in this Army
turned university town, residents are learning how to adjust
with the ocean as the water moves inland.
A long-planned Pajaro River flooding prevention project has
secured its first federal funding for engineering and design.
Earlier this week, Rep. Jimmy Panetta announced that the Pajaro
River Flood Risk Reduction Project had been provided $1.8
million from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2020 work plan
Cal Am’s request calls for raising water rates to increase
revenue by about $8.4 million in the Monterey district to cover
new capital investment, increased labor costs, and higher
administrative and operations expenses, driving the “average”
local customer’s bill from about $89.40 to about $105.78 over
the three-year period from 2021-2023.
As the county reports advances in water protection and
conservation technologies, water use continues to remain lower
that previous years, the Santa Cruz County Water Resources
Management Status Report shows.
California American Water has received a 90-day extension of
the deadline for the Coastal Commission to consider the
company’s desalination project permit application, effectively
allowing commission staff about four more months to complete
Landowners, politicians, legal experts and concerned citizens
packed the Agricultural Center Conference Room to weigh the
benefits and pitch solutions to problems within the two main
proposals, either a bond measure or a pay-as-you-go tax
increase. After hours of presentations and discussion, the Jan.
31 meeting came to no definitive conclusion on which option
would be best.
Pure Water Monterey has finally secured a critical final state
approval and is poised to begin delivering potable recycled
water to the Seaside basin by mid-February. After an all-day
inspection of the $126 million recycled water project’s
advanced water purification facility by a nine-member team on
Tuesday, the state Division of Drinking Water signed off both
verbally and by email.
The plan, put together with the help of Carollo Engineers,
Inc., lays out a 20-year road map of projects needed to
maintain and improve the city’s reservoirs, water tanks, wells,
underground pipes and pump stations.
Coastal Commission staff has recommended California American
Water withdraw and resubmit a coastal development permit
application involving the company’s proposed Monterey Peninsula
desalination project, which would likely postpone a hearing on
the desal permit and a pending appeal until September at the
The multi-year, multi-agency effort to transform the lower
landscape of the Carmel River into a natural floodplain took a
massive step forward Jan. 28 when the Monterey County Board of
Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the project’s final
environmental impact report.
Eight years after the regional desalination project fell apart,
the legal battle over its unraveling appears to be nearing a
conclusion. A proposed settlement has been reached among the
parties involved… It was presented on Monday in the San
Francisco Superior Court overseeing the long-running lawsuit.
January 31 is a big day for California water. It’s the day when
21 critically overdrafted groundwater basins must submit plans
to the state for how they will bring their groundwater demand
in line with available supplies over the next 20 years.
The City Council passed a resolution to make a formal request
of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District that it
allocate additional water to develop affordable housing. …
Most of the Peninsula is under a moratorium for additional
water hook-ups following the cease-and-desist order instituted
in 1995 when the State Water Resources Control Board ordered
California American Water to stop over-pumping the Carmel
The city of Santa Maria is set to begin a native-plant
restoration project on about 150 acres of city-owned land in
the Santa Maria Riverbed, a spokesman announced Wednesday. The
work is slated to begin this week, east of the Highway 101
The groundwater sustainability plan approved Jan. 9 features a
slew of solutions like eradicating thirsty reeds invading the
watershed, and proposed pumping limits that could lead to the
fallowing of some farmland. Also envisioned are a “wall”
against seawater and possibly a new desalination plant that
would dwarf the project being pursued by the Monterey
Peninsula’s water utility, California American Water.
California increased its efforts Friday to keep the federal
government from allowing oil and gas drilling on more than 1
million acres of public land, suing to block the Trump
administration from issuing new permits in the central part of
Praising progress on a long-awaited Pajaro River flood
prevention project, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors
reviewed a proposed regional flood prevention agency that would
oversee construction and operation of the $393.7 million
initiative. By a unanimous vote, the county board directed
staff to finalize a joint powers agreement at the center of the
proposed Pajaro Regional Flood Management Agency.
Innovative efforts to accelerate
restoration of headwater forests and to improve a river for the
benefit of both farmers and fish. Hard-earned lessons for water
agencies from a string of devastating California wildfires.
Efforts to drought-proof a chronically water-short region of
California. And a broad debate surrounding how best to address
persistent challenges facing the Colorado River.
These were among the issues Western Water explored in
2019, and are still worth taking a look at in case you missed
The city has a five-year plan for its initial removals of
sedimentation, and city officials forecast spending a total of
about $1.65 million. According to a 2016 city report, removing
the sediment would deepen the lake and create community
benefits that include enhancing wildlife habitat, critical for
threatened steelhead trout and local and migratory birds, as
well as recreational opportunities…
The F-Pipeline Project will construct pipelines to provide
supplemental water service to approximately 700 acres of
coastal farmland on the seaward side of San Andreas Road. …
The purpose is to further reduce groundwater pumping to halt
seawater intrusion and groundwater overdraft while keeping
agriculture viable in the Pajaro Valley.
According to Monterey One Water general manager Paul Sciuto,
the best-case scenario now is the much-anticipated $126 million
recycled water project would be able to start delivering water
to the basin by early February, about a month later than the
most recent previous estimate…
Conserving water while training firefighters might seem like an
oxymoron. But the DRAFTS Pump Pod, essentially a specially
designed trailer designed to capture and reuse water, will
provide a vital role in teaching cadets how to use hoses,
manage hose lines and learn nozzle reaction so they can serve
the community after graduation…
Nobody likes to look out to the Pacific Ocean and see oil
derricks on the horizon. That’s why California wisely banned
new offshore oil drilling 50 years ago. But in Monterey County,
coastal views are limited by a relic of a bygone era: a giant,
industrial sand plant right on the dunes between Highway One
and the ocean.
One of the major problems LandWatch cites is a lack of water on
former Fort Ord property which the city hopes to develop in the
future, according to court documents. Two parcels, identified
as sites 1 and 1A, are located over the Salinas Valley
Groundwater Basin, considered overdrafted and already
experiencing seawater intrusion.
A project in the Salinas Valley aims to remove contaminants
like phosphate from the water at a lower cost using much less
energy. … Partnering with the city of Salinas and the
wastewater treatment facility, the project aims to remove
phosphates efficiently and recycle water for groundwater
recharge and irrigation water to farmers.
The nearly $4 million project, assisted with $3.4 million in
state grants and a $1 million match from Pajaro Valley Water,
is expected to further reduce groundwater pumping in the area,
so as to halt seawater intrusion and groundwater overdraft
while keeping agriculture viable in the Pajaro Valley.
The Department of Defense recently awarded a $266,589 grant to
a California State University Monterey Bay professor to
continue his research into fog. Reporter Michelle Loxton spoke
with Daniel Fernandez about how this grant will take his
research to the next level.
Monterey Peninsula Water Management District officials have
agreed to move forward with detailed analysis and planning for
a potential public acquisition and ownership of California
American Water’s local water system. On Monday, the water
district board unanimously approved spending up to $1.24
million on work by a team of consultants to prepare the
district to make a formal offer for the Cal Am system…
Environmental groups say they plan to fight a Trump
administration decision that cleared the way for new oil and
gas leases on more than 1 million acres in California. … The
final supplemental environmental report released recently said
the BLM found no adverse impacts of hydraulic fracturing that
could not be alleviated. Several groups and state officials,
however, disagree and have called the
California’s coastal waters are acidifying twice as fast as the
rest of the oceans, a study published Monday shows. And some of
California’s most important seafood — including the spiny
lobster, the market squid and the Dungeness crab — are becoming
Nitrogen pollution, largely from burning fossil fuels,
industrial agriculture and wildfire can reduce drinking water
quality and make air difficult to breathe. Thanks to a $1.1
million grant from the National Science Foundation, we will
soon have a better understanding of how much nitrogen arid
ecosystems can absorb before they produce negative effects.
During the 2019 Flood Prevention Authority Legislative
Conference, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers presented a
cost-benefit analysis in support of what is estimated to be
about a $394 million project, an effort which would reduce
significant flood risk to the city of Watsonville, Pajaro in
Monterey County and adjacent agricultural areas…
On Monday, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District
board is set to consider approving $1.24 million on consultants
to prepare for a potential vote by the summer on a resolution
of necessity to acquire Cal Am’s local system.
Calling it a move to resolve a dispute between agencies that
could endanger local groundwater management efforts, the Board
of Supervisors agreed Wednesday to form a groundwater
sustainability agency for the Cemex sand mining plant site.
Votes of support by local jurisdictions bring the project one
step closer to reality. Reality is a costly giant tunnel that
would divert Sacramento River water bound for the
Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta and transport the water directly
to Central Valley farms and urban users in the Bay Area and
The state is moving to ramp down oil production while
Washington is expediting it. State officials are taking a
closer look at the environmental and health threats —
especially land, air and water contamination — posed by energy
extraction, while Washington appears to have concluded that
existing federal regulations sufficiently protect its sensitive
landscapes as well as public health.
When will the San Simeon services district end its 31-year ban
on issuing new water connections? Members of the San Simeon
Community Services District board of directors took initial
steps toward that goal on Nov. 13, unanimously authorizing the
preparation of a major report about lifting the longtime
moratorium on new water connections in the tiny town.
In my current research, I have been studying the implementation
of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, commonly known
as SGMA, in California. SGMA is one of the world’s
largest-scale policy experiments on collective action to manage
natural resources. At the same time, pervasively disparate
access to water resources in the Central Valley made SGMA the
perfect case study to test some of the power asymmetry theories
I have been working on with my colleagues.
The 20-year groundwater plan, required by state law, aims to
bring the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin back into balance.
Between 1981 and 2011, the 684-square-mile aquifer serving 29
percent of San Luis Obispo County residents and 40 percent of
its agriculture lost 369,000 acre-feet of water.
Frogs are delaying another wastewater treatment facility
project, this time at the South San Luis Obispo County
Sanitation District in Oceano. The South SLO County Sanitation
District members are working to upgrade the nearly 50 year old
facility, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is
concerned construction could impact the California red-legged
frog, a species on the verge of being endangered.
There’s a war over the future of water on the Monterey
Peninsula and it’s taking place in the board chambers of half a
dozen state and local government entities. It’s also taking
place on social media and in the press.
And as in other parts of the United States, black migrants were
met with Jim Crow-style racism: “Whites Only” signs, curfews
and discriminatory practices by banks. Often, the only places
black families could settle were on arid acres on the outskirts
of cultivated farmland — places like Teviston… Today, the
legacy of segregation in the Central Valley reverberates
underground, through old pipes, dry wells and soil tainted by
shoddy septic systems.
A recent settlement between Monterey County, Monterey County
Water Resources Agency, and a coalition of Salinas Valley
farmers brings an end to a protracted legal battle over
reservoir operations during drought conditions.
Three times as much mercury has been found in mountain lions in
the Santa Cruz Mountains than in their inland brethren, and the
likely culprit is coastal fog, a first-of-its-kind study by UC
Santa Cruz has found. The fog is apparently pulling mercury out
of the ocean and dripping it over the coastal mountains…
The Center for Biological Diversity on Thursday sued the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, alleging the agency wrongly
allowed oil waste to be dumped into a San Luis Obispo aquifer
and ignored impacts to the California red-legged frog and other
In what has become an all-too-familiar occurrence, three water
projects designed to serve the Monterey Peninsula have again
experienced delays, including the Pure Water Monterey recycled
water project and its proposed expansion, and California
American Water’s proposed desalination project.
The pricetag for recycled drinking water just got less
expensive for Mid-County customers. The State Water Resources
Control Board unanimously approved a $50 million grant for
Soquel Creek Water District’s pending Pure Water Soquel
Groundwater Replenishment and Seawater Intrusion Prevention
Thousands of gallons of partially treated wastewater was
released from California Men’s Colony into Chorro Creek
Thursday morning, the San Luis Obispo County Public Health
department said… Approximately 33,000 gallons of wastewater
were released from the prison north of San Luis Obispo…
California is on track to build a $1 billion dam and create a
giant reservoir at Pacheco Pass that will dwarf the existing
reservoir and dam near Highway 152 east of Gilroy, with
construction beginning in 2024. New evidence from an
independent nationwide study of dam safety suggests a new
incentive for the project—safety…
According to a 111-page analysis by a group of financial
consultants and bankers released on Nov. 6, not only is a
buyout of the behemoth Cal Am feasible, it would also cause the
cost of water to drop significantly if the water utility was
replaced by a public agency.
It will cost Monterey Peninsula ratepayers about $574.5
million, all in, to acquire California American Water’s local
water system, but that cost can be covered in rate savings
under public ownership with some leftover to lower local
customers’ water bills.
With roughly two and a half months remaining before a
state-mandated deadline, local agencies overseeing critically
overdrafted groundwater basins are working to finalize
sustainability plans as required by a 2014 state law.
Cal Am Water’s experts may have seriously underestimated the
potential impact the company’s proposed desalination plant
would have on the existing water supply nearby, the staff of
the California Coastal Commission concluded in a report
released this week as a supplement to its exhaustive report on
the overall project.
A species of frog made famous by a Mark Twain short story has
delayed construction on Morro Bay’s new sewer plant, even
though the protected amphibian hasn’t been spotted anywhere on
the site in years.
A newly released study finds a public takeover of California
American Water’s local system is feasible. Voters ordered this
study with the approval of a local ballot measure, Measure J,
one year ago. The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District
released the study Wednesday.
Now is the time to focus on Pure Water Monterey and scrap the
desal plans. If 10 years from now the recycled water project
doesn’t do the trick, and there’s still a need for a desal
plant, we can be optimistic that future advances in technology
will make any desal option more environmentally-friendly and
The executive director of the San Mateo Resource Conservation
District was admiring the restoration of 8,000 feet of the
Butano Creek stream channel, the largest and most ambitious of
a series of projects the district is spearheading to stop
chronic flooding, bring back endangered fish and restore 28
acres of degraded wetlands at Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve.
LandWatch, the nonprofit environmental watchdog, has in effect
said it will support the city of Seaside’s Campus Town if the
project will obtain its 442 acre-foot water supply without
increasing groundwater pumping. Campus Town … proposes
building up to 1,485 housing units on 85 acres of former Army
land next to CSU Monterey Bay …
The county of San Luis Obispo announced plans to map the Paso
Robles Groundwater Basin. … People who live in Creston,
Shandon, and Whitely Gardens may see a low flying helicopter
towing a large hexagonal frame when work begins.
The City of Paso Robles recently celebrated the completion of
one of the largest and most complex infrastructure projects in
the city’s history, new Tertiary Treatment Facilities at the
City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Drinking water wells in two areas of San Luis Obispo County are
contaminated with potentially toxic “forever chemicals,”
according to recently released results of state water testing.
The local testing found that 15 wells in San Luis Obispo and
Atascadero had levels high enough to require notification to
water system governing boards.
Activists and local government officials across Monterey County
have banded together to fight a proposed desalination plant
that could double the cost of water for some residents and
endanger an aquifer that serves low-income communities.
It all starts with the water quality of the creek that runs
alongside Mission Plaza. The Central Coast Regional Water
Quality Control Board has determined the water is so
contaminated with fecal matter, the city has to do something
about it to prevent people from getting sick with E. Coli and
Los Padres ForestWatch has sued the Department of Interior, the
Bureau of Reclamation, and the Santa Maria Valley Water
Conservation District, charging that Twitchell Reservoir dam
operations are inflicting serious ongoing damage to the
steelhead trout, a federally endangered species, that rely on
the Santa Maria River.
Touting a shift in local politics and a preferable alternative,
more than two dozen area elected officials signed on to a
letter to the Coastal Commission calling for denial of the
California American Water desalination project.
In an update to the water district board of directors this
week, officials from both agencies described how Soquel Creek
will expand its distribution of city water to a greater part of
its service area this winter.
Morro Bay pushed through discussions about 17 possible
locations before it finally pinned down the South Bay Boulevard
and Highway 1 site for its water reclamation facility. But the
location is unacceptable to a group of residents who are
petitioning the city’s decision to purchase the site of the
Growing berries can be a water intensive proposition, with the
added challenge that prime growing regions are often located in
areas of high water stress: Eighty percent of Driscoll’s
acreage globally can be found in California and Mexico, regions
which coincide with significant water risks to businesses and
the communities in which they operate.
To survive the next drought and meet the looming demands of the
state’s groundwater sustainability law, California is going to
have to put more water back in the ground. But as other Western
states have found, recharging overpumped aquifers is no easy
For more than 20 years, California pondered what to do about
steelhead in the Santa Ynez River. On Sept. 17, the State Water
Resources Control Board finally made a decision. It voted to
pass an order that will increase water releases from Lake
Groundwater management plans have been released for public
review by both the Salinas Valley and City of Marina
groundwater sustainability agencies … with no agreement
between the two agencies in place and California American
Water’s desalination project at the center of a dispute.
A Monterey County Superior Court judge has called a halt to
work on the California American Water desalination plant
project, at least temporarily, while a California Coastal
Commission appeal challenging the project’s source wells is
While cities on the Monterey Peninsula have been working to
address housing needs and the business community is actively
looking to create more jobs, there is one component they all
need to complete their plans – reliable, drought-proof access
To survive the next drought and meet
the looming demands of the state’s groundwater sustainability
law, California is going to have to put more water back in the
ground. But as other Western states have found, recharging
overpumped aquifers is no easy task.
Successfully recharging aquifers could bring multiple benefits
for farms and wildlife and help restore the vital interconnection
between groundwater and rivers or streams. As local areas around
California draft their groundwater sustainability plans, though,
landowners in the hardest hit regions of the state know they will
have to reduce pumping to address the chronic overdraft in which
millions of acre-feet more are withdrawn than are naturally
The majority of California’s elected leaders oppose Trump’s
plans. A majority of Californians also believes the state
should ban the dangerous practice called “fracking,” which
injects poisonous, cancer-causing chemicals deep into the
Building the capacity to resolve disputes and work together is
critical for a sustainable water future. However, recent
analysis conducted by Water in the West … suggests that
alternative dispute resolution processes are rarely used even
when included in water management agreements.
Typical discussions about homelessness tend to focus on its
most obvious problem, a lack of shelter. What often gets left
out, though, are the tangential issues that arise from the
crisis. On Oct. 3, the Central Coast Regional Water Quality
Control Board set out to examine one such issue: the ways in
which homelessness and water quality intersect.
The project is the first of its kind to tap agricultural
run-off among a variety of wastewater sources for conversion
into potable, drinking water that would represent about a third
of the Monterey Peninsula’s new drinking water supply.
As a berry farmer in Coastal California my entire life, I have
been a vocal supporter of groundwater regulation. … We are
now seeing the profound risk of losing this critical resource,
unless we collectively act soon to preserve groundwater
resources for both the next decade and future generations.
The paper is intended to help groundwater managers avoid
inadvertently contaminating water supplies as they change
management practices to comply with California’s Sustainable
Groundwater Management Act. It focuses on natural contaminants
such as arsenic, chromium, and uranium, as well as contaminants
that can pose a threat to human and ecosystem health…
Over 30 years, Cal Am’s Desal would cost $1.2 billion while the
Pure Water Monterey expansion would be only $190 million. But
the cost in dollars is not the only comparison that should be
made. The environmental cost comparison is also dramatic.
Santa Maria and several other Central Coast Water Authority
members are planning to claim an additional 12,214 acre-feet of
state water that was set aside decades ago. The move — which
would be funded by issuing a $42 million bond — would increase
Santa Maria’s annual right to state water from 17,820 to over
27,000 acre-feet each year.
The proposed water rates include a fixed meter charge per month
and a variable consumption charge per unit of water. The city
says most single family residences will see about a $15
increase in January of 2020. … The last rate increase was
approved by the city council five years ago, but he says a lot
has changed since then.
The project, called the Upper Salinas River Basin Conjunctive
Use Project, captures existing wastewater flows generated
within the eastside of the District and will return these flows
back to the Meadowbrook Wastewater Treatment Plant. The
wastewater undergoes treatment and is then discharged into the
river alluvium that contains the Salinas River underflow
providing subsequent conveyance to district wells…
The southern part of California’s Central Coast from San Luis
Obispo County to Ventura County, home to about 1.5 million
people, is blessed with a pleasing Mediterranean climate and a
picturesque terrain. Yet while its unique geography abounds in
beauty, the area perpetually struggles with drought.
Over the last five years, more than 250 groundwater
sustainability agencies have formed to manage groundwater at
the local level and dozens of groundwater sustainability plans
are in progress. … So what do we still need to make the
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act a success?
The Monterey Peninsula has gotten so good at conserving water
that there is no need to build a costly desalination plant for
decades – even if the region experiences unprecedented growth –
according to a report from the top executive at the Monterey
Peninsula Water Management District.
The southern part of California’s Central Coast from San Luis Obispo County to Ventura County, home to about 1.5 million people, is blessed with a pleasing Mediterranean climate and a picturesque terrain. Yet while its unique geography abounds in beauty, the area perpetually struggles with drought.
Indeed, while the rest of California breathed a sigh of relief with the return of wet weather after the severe drought of 2012–2016, places such as Santa Barbara still grappled with dry conditions.
Sea otters are a keystone species in their native coastal
environments. They prey on small herbivorous sea creatures like
sea urchins, which can lead to more kelp and healthier seagrass
in an area. But after being hunted for their fur to near
extinction in the 19th and 20th centuries, otter populations
along the California coast are still struggling.
Reaction has been predictably mixed to a new report that
concludes the Monterey Peninsula may be able to get by with
recycled water instead of desalinated water for the next two
decades and perhaps beyond.
Commissioners will decide later about whether the long-planned,
reconfigured Cambria Pines Apartments project (32
affordable-housing apartments and a manager’s unit) should move
forward, given Cambria’s current water-supply issues and other
Through a $3 million contract with the California State Water
Resources Board, the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation will
conduct a statewide drinking water needs analysis to identify
risks and solutions for water systems and private wells
throughout the state.
Completion and operation of the much-anticipated Pure Water
Monterey recycled water project have been delayed again and it
is now expected to miss another key water delivery deadline set
for the end of this year.
Farmers clearly appreciate the yields that fertilizers
facilitate, but many acknowledge that these chemicals are
tainting the land and water. Enter the Central Coast Wetlands
Group and the Coastal Conservation and Research, Inc. and their
new bioreactor designed to process agricultural runoff, turning
algae-bloom-triggering waste into benign nitrogen gas.
In 2012, California became the first state in the country to
declare that “Every human being has the right to safe, clean,
affordable and accessible water” when the state legislature
inserted that statement into its state water code. Now, a new
UCLA study finds, the state may be making progress on turning
that goal into a reality.
More than $670 million in water projects … are options under
a draft plan for helping get the Salinas Valley Basin to
sustainability by 2040. A draft Salinas Valley Basin
groundwater sustainability plan includes 13 projects ranging
from Salinas River invasive species eradication … to a
seawater intrusion barrier using a series of wells to head off
saltwater contamination …
A massive marine heat wave that caused record warming of ocean
waters off the West Coast five years ago, sending salmon
numbers crashing and malnourished sea lions washing up on
beaches across California and other Pacific states, is back,
scientists said Thursday.
With every passing week, California American Water clears more
hurdles as it sets out to build a desalination plant near
Marina. The most recent victory for the proponents of the $329
million project came on Aug. 28 at the California Supreme
Under the plan, Seaside’s Bayonet & Black Horse golf course
would stop pumping the 450 acre-feet of drinking water it draws
every year from the area’s underground basin. Instead, the
greens would get irrigated using recycled water produced by
Pure Water Monterey, the advanced sewage treatment facility in
Marina that is slated to open this fall. The water that stays
in the basin would be made available to developers who want to
build in Seaside.
The Paso Robles groundwater basin is one of three basins in the
state chosen to participate in a Stanford University study that
will deploy state-of-the-art aerial electromagnetic technology
to better understand its characteristics.
Many wild southern sea otters in California are infected with
the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, yet the infection is
fatal for only a fraction of sea otters, which has long puzzled
the scientific community. A study from the University of
California, Davis, identifies the parasite’s specific strains
that are killing southern sea otters, tracing them back to a
bobcat and feral domestic cats from nearby watersheds.
A lot of money will soon be flowing into California communities
with contaminated drinking water thanks to the new Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water Fund. Today at its meeting, the State
Water Board will talk about how to implement that $1.4-billion
program. One community that could use the help is north of Moss
On the modern farm, soil sensors, well monitors and paperwork
abound. The trick is trying to keep all that data organized. To
that end, a Monterey County winegrape grower, Scheid Family
Wines of Greenfield, came up with its own system, first called
VitWatch, to digitize information previously recorded on paper.
California’s water regulator voted Tuesday to spend $1.3
billion over the next 10 years to provide safe drinking water
to communities throughout California. The money allocated by
the State Water Resources Control Board comes from the Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water Fund, created last month when Gov.
Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 200.
While wildfires have gotten much of the attention in California
as consequences of climate change, it’s really rising sea
levels that will likely wreak the most damage. With more than
25 million people living near the coast, some $150 billion
worth of property is at risk.
Arguing that Monterey County officials improperly ignored new
groundwater impact information and a viable, even preferable
recycled water alternative, Marina Coast Water District has
sued the county and California American Water over the county’s
narrow approval of Cal Am’s desalination plant permit.
The more than 1 million Californians without access to safe,
affordable drinking water may soon see money flowing for water
districts to regionalize, consolidate, install treatment, or
take other actions to improve water quality.
Released on Friday, the 15-page plan authored by water district
general manager Dave Stoldt outlines a recommended approach to
meet the district’s formal policy of pursuing public control of
all “water production, storage and delivery assets and
infrastructure,” as established by voter-approved Measure J.
California was the last Western state to pass legislation
regulating groundwater: the Sustainable Groundwater Management
Act of 2014 arrived after more than a century of development,
intensive agriculture, bouts of drought and the looming threat
that our aquifers will dry up. But the details of who would get
to pump what – and the financial cost of achieving groundwater
sustainability – are only now becoming clear.
According to a 2017 report by the Outdoor Industry Association,
outdoor recreation generated $92 billion in consumer spending
in California and is directly responsible for 691,000 jobs in
the state. That’s why local residents and elected leaders have
sought additional safeguards to make sure that some of the more
extraordinary lands and rivers within the national forest and
monument receive permanent protection as wilderness and wild
and scenic rivers.
In the past, California city planners have been largely
reactive, reconstructing boardwalks lashed by winter storms.
Now, with the long-term outlook for the coast coming into
focus, the California Coastal Commission is urging communities
from San Diego to Humboldt counties to revise their local
coastal programs to take comprehensive adaptive approaches…
Other than talking of a “planned retreat” from the water and
bluffs, local government has a hard time getting its head
around this crisis. Like so many of our regional problems —
traffic, homelessness, housing — each government unit feels
somewhat powerless on its own. And with no accountability, the
real work is negligible. Meanwhile, California crumbles.
A new category will be considered to allocate the resource to
accessory dwelling units as well. … With recent changes at
the state level regarding more flexible regulations enabling
the construction of accessory dwelling units, those have become
a more viable option to increase homes in the city and add
A feasibility analysis of a potential public buyout of
California American Water’s local water system will be delayed
a few months. But the Monterey Peninsula Water Management
District will go ahead with a required written public ownership
It turns out that the same structural problems that caused the
failure at Oroville Dam in February 2017 also exist at the
spillway of San Antonio Dam, just two miles north of Lake
Nacimiento and above the community of Bradley.
A San Luis Obispo County policy regulating pumping from the
Paso Robles Groundwater Basin has hamstrung how Robert
Galbraith can farm his land. For decades, the family grew corn
silage, Sudan grass, alfalfa, and grains on their few hundred
acres. Now, Galbraith has essentially lost the right to farm,
though he can see many a green vineyard down the road.
California American Water is seeking to raise its Monterey area
average customers’ bills by nearly 18 percent over a three-year
period from 2021-2023. … Under the proposal, the “average”
Cal Am customer would see their monthly rates increase from
about $89.40 to $105.42 over the three-year period.
The Center for Biological Diversity is threatening to sue the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its decision earlier
this year to exempt portions of the Arroyo Grande Oil Field
from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
The heavy rains that hit the Central Coast this past winter are
keeping recreators at area lakes and reservoirs happy this
summer. However, the precipitation has done little to ease
concerns for a group fighting Monterey County over the water it
withdraws from Lake Nacimiento.
Californians are worried about global warming causing severe
wildfires and consider the health of beaches and the ocean key
priorities, according to a new statewide survey focused on the
environment. … While the poll found significant concern about
rising seas and more extreme heat, it was at a lower level than
the preoccupation with wildfires.
Seven and a half years after it was formed, the Monterey
Peninsula Regional Water Authority is moving forward with a
smaller, less expensive version of itself. … The authority
has completed the vast majority of its mandate in backing a new
water supply for the Peninsula and can now be expected to shift
its focus toward dealing with the state water board’s Carmel
River pumping cutback order.
Researchers from Stanford University have developed an
affordable, durable technology that could harness energy
generated from mixing freshwater from seawater. Outlined in a
new paper … they suggest that this “blue energy” could make
coastal wastewater treatment plants energy-independent.
It will cost about $189.5 million to complete the proposed
Interlake Tunnel project and the state-required Lake San
Antonio dam repairs, according to a county Water Resources
Agency report to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday. And $162.5
million of that will have to be paid for by Salinas Valley
property owners through a special assessment as early as spring
Congress has reauthorized the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery
Conservation and Management Act a few times over the years,
most recently in 2006. In the years since, efforts to revisit
the law have stalled out before netting any results. Now,
Congressmember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) plans to introduce
a bill to tackle the reauthorization within the next year.
New measurements taken in California’s Monterey Bay show that
it absorbs carbon dioxide emissions from the surrounding cities
and agricultural lands, making it more acidic. The finding is
reminiscent of the urban heat island effect, in which cities
tend to be a few degrees warmer than the surrounding
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed into law the Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water Fund bill in the tiny Fresno County
community of Tombstone Territory — where residents rely on
bottled water because their private wells are contaminated.
Starting next year, Senate Bill 200 will provide $130 million
annually to clean up drinking water in California communities
like Tombstone that lack access to safe water.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved an exclusive
negotiating rights agreement with Cal Am for the Chualar,
Boronda and Pajaro sanitary sewer systems, and authorized
county Resource Management Agency director Carl Holm to
negotiate, execute, and implement the sale and transfer of the
systems. … The county has been seeking to sell the sewer
systems for years…
Gathering California water policy and decision-makers along
with groundwater stakeholders and users, the workshop gave
participants the opportunity to meet European Union (EU) water
specialists, exchange experiences and ideas, and compare
California and EU issues and solutions.
The Soquel Creek Water District board met … voted unanimously
to approve an agreement with the city of Santa Cruz to build a
tertiary treatment plant for its Pure Water Soquel project
onsite at the city’s Wastewater Treatment Facility, which also
will supply the water supply for the project.
The “Water Justice Act” would invest nearly $220 billion in
clean and safe drinking water programs, with priority given to
high-risk communities and schools. As part of that, Harris’
plan would declare a drinking water infrastructure emergency,
devoting $50 billion toward communities and schools where water
How can the short memory of the public maintain the long-term
commitments of water projects and conservation behaviors? On
one hand, California’s recent extended drought demonstrated
that the public water users could reduce their water use, but
can it be maintained permanently?
When Gov. Gavin Newsom called for constructing and maintaining
delivery systems to get water to at-risk communities in his
State of the State address, he received widespread support. But
the fight over funding for the project got divisive – and fast.
California Influencers this week answered one or both of the
following the questions: What are your thoughts regarding Gov.
Gavin Newsom and the Legislature’s decision to use money from
the state’s cap-and-trade funding to improve drinking water for
at-risk Californians? How can California best provide safe and
clean water for all of us?