About 1 million Californians can’t safely drink their tap
water. Approximately 300 water systems in California
currently have contamination issues ranging from arsenic to lead
to uranium at levels that create severe health issues. It’s a
disgrace that demands immediate state action.
For the first time, researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and collaborating
institutions have documented the transition of a stable,
slow-moving landslide into catastrophic collapse, showing how
drought and extreme rains likely destabilized the slide. The
Mud Creek landslide near Big Sur, California, dumped about 6
million cubic yards (5 million cubic meters) of rock and debris
across California Highway 1 on May 20, 2017.
Questions about financial liability and concerns over weighted
votes among member agencies of the Central Coast Water
Authority prompted the Santa Barbara County Board of
Supervisors to take no action on transferring the state water
contract to that joint-powers agency. … CCWA has been
trying to have the contract reassigned since it was formed in
1991, but the Department of Water Resources would not agree to
the request because it was unclear if a joint-powers agency
could levy a property tax if a member defaulted on financial
Just as Carpinteria was finishing its draft ocean adaptation
report, the State of California put out some gloomy news:
Sea-rise levels were now expected to rise 10 feet by 2100, not
5 feet. Carpinteria will be holding an all-residents-invited
workshop on February 12 to discuss the findings and
Even with the onslaught of rainy weather, the U.S. Drought
Monitor states San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County
remain in a moderate drought. On Wednesday, the UC Cooperative
Extension held a workshop in Solvang titled “Weather, Grass,
and Drought: Planning for Uncertainty.”
The sewer rate increases approved for Morro Bay will go into
effect in July, despite opposition from a group that earlier
claimed it got enough protest signatures to stop the rate hike.
Morro Bay City Manager Scott Collins clarified in a recent
report that the protest was unsuccessful and the measure will
go into effect with customers seeing the additional charge on
their August bill.
A new $50 million California American Water pipeline is
officially in use. According to Cal Am engineering manager
Chris Cook, the pipeline began conveying water from the Carmel
River to the Seaside basin as part of the aquifer storage
and recovery program last week, allowing the company to start
reversing the historic flow of water from northward to
southward and save money and energy in the process.
A partnership between Monterey One Water and the Monterey
Peninsula Water Management District, the project is designed to
produce up to 3,500 acre-feet of highly treated water per year
to the Peninsula for injection into the Seaside basin and later
extraction and use by California American Water for its
Peninsula customers. … The recycled water project is a
key part of the proposed replacement water supply
portfolio for the Peninsula to offset the state water board’s
Carmel River pumping cutback order.
Plains All American Pipeline has applied for permits to rebuild
a 124-mile pipeline across the Central Coast of California, a
project that would enable ExxonMobil to reopen offshore
production that stopped after Plains’ existing pipe caused an
oil spill near Santa Barbara in 2015.
The strongest Pacific storm of the season will lash California
through Saturday with high winds, feet of Sierra snow, and
heavy rain that could trigger flash flooding, debris flows and
rockslides. If that wasn’t enough, another colder storm is
waiting in the wings behind this first system.
By this time next year, 21 critically over-drafted groundwater
basins in California must submit plans to the state’s
Department of Water Resources for how to bring their basins
back into balance. With this major deadline looming, it’s
crunch time for water managers and their consultants – some of
whom will begin releasing draft plans in the next six to eight
months seeking required public comments.
Any day now, eel-like parasites with sucker mouths will wiggle
up San Luis Obispo Creek and build underwater nests in the
creek bed to spawn. … These ancient, jaw-less fish, which
look like something out of a bad horror movie, are called
Pacific lampreys. This is the third year in a row that the
lampreys are in San Luis Obispo. That’s after they suddenly
vanished for nearly a decade, leaving scientists bewildered.
Go deep into one of California’s most pressing issues –
groundwater – by visiting an extensometer that
measures subsidence, an active aquifer storage and recovery
well, a recycling facility that recharges water into the ground
Water well owners in Sonoma County may get billed for their
annual water usage under a proposed water-conservation plan up
for discussion next week at a community meeting in Santa Rosa.
The Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) is
hosting the Jan. 30 meeting to hear feedback on its proposed
“groundwater sustainability fee,” which would provide funding
to support the new agency.
The rainwater collection system is broken at the environmental
research station on a remote, rocky Pacific island off the
California coast. So is a crane used to hoist small boats in
and out of the water. A two-year supply of diesel fuel for the
power generators is almost gone. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
personnel ordinarily would help with such problems. But they
haven’t been around since the partial federal government
shutdown began a month ago…
From 1,000 feet above, you can see surf pounding long sequences
of seawalls and riprap rocks protecting homes, the ocean
sometimes appearing to threaten structures, despite the
installed barriers. Where there are cliffs with no homes, the
waves gnaw away at the bluffs, moving the beaches at their base
farther inland. The extreme king tides of the past few days
occur only once or twice a year, but they offer a glimpse of
what normal tides will be eventually be doing daily as the
result of rising sea levels.
Even in the depths of winter it’s easy to bite into a plump
blackberry or a delicate red raspberry, thanks to Driscoll’s,
the world’s largest berry company. In late 2018, I traveled to
the Pajaro Valley, west of Santa Cruz, for a tour of a
Driscoll’s research facility, which provided an eye-opening
view into how this family-owned company has become an
agriculture leader selling berries every month of the year, and
why they are so committed to water conservation.
One in seven Americans drink from private wells, according to
the U.S. Geological Survey. Nitrate concentrations rose
significantly in 21% of regions where USGS researchers tested
groundwater from 2002 through 2012, compared with the 13 prior
years. … “The worst-kept secret is how vulnerable
private wells are to agricultural runoff,” says David Cwiertny,
director of the University of Iowa’s Center for Health Effects
of Environmental Contamination.
California American Water’s Monterey Peninsula desalination
project is in the midst of another critical phase even as
a Carmel River pumping cutback order milestone requiring the
start of construction looms later this year. … The city of
Marina is on schedule to consider the project’s coastal
development permit application covering mostly proposed desal
plant feeder slant wells on the CEMEX sand mining plant by
mid-March, according to a senior city planning official.
A group of Lake Nacimiento residents is suing Monterey County
for $120 million, claiming officials ignored the needs of
recreational users by releasing more water from the reservoir
than necessary. The lawsuit, filed in San Luis Obispo
County Superior Court in Paso Robles, alleges the county agency
has mismanaged the reservoir and “operated the lake in a manner
that renders it almost unusable by property owners and visitors
More than ever, water’s true value as a finite and precious
resource is starting to be realised, and a growing number of
investors are paying attention. There are plenty of examples of
water risk. Campbell Soup Company took a hit in its quarterly
earnings recently, due to an acquisition of a California fresh
food company that was pummeled by the California drought.
Locally, the primary impacts of climate change on people can
broadly be broken into four categories: sea level rise,
drought, flood and wildfire. The good news is, work and
planning are already well underway to mitigate impacts, though
it’s hard to say how much of an effect the measures will have,
and how much those agencies – and their constituents – will be
willing to spend on them. But this much is clear: Local, state
and federal agencies are taking climate change seriously, and
treating it like the potentially existential threat that it is.
California’s new governor looked at the rainfall and saw
millions of dollars in uncollected water taxes going right down
the drain. In one of his first moves as chief executive, Newsom
declared that he wants to tax the state’s drinking water, in
order to give poor people access to safe and affordable water.
I guess this is his idea of trickle-down economics.
The budget specifically calls out funding for Safe and
Affordable Drinking Water. It discusses the need to find a
stable funding source for long-term operation and maintenance
of drinking water systems in disadvantaged communities, stating
that existing loan and grant programs are limited to capital
Learn from top experts at our annual Water
101 Workshop about the history, hydrology and law
behind California water as well as hot topics such as water
flows, the Delta, disadvantaged communities and the Sustainable
Groundwater Management Act. For the first time, the workshop
offers an optional groundwater tour the next day
The announcement finalizes prioritization of 458 basins,
identifying 56 that are required to create groundwater
sustainability plans under the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act. For most basins, the results are a confirmation
of prioritizations established in 2015. Fifty-nine basins
remain under review with final prioritization expected in late
Last month, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management released a
scoping report on hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas
development on approximately 400,000 acres of BLM-administered
public land and 1.2 million acres of federal mineral estate
lands on tribal and privately held lands in Fresno, Kern,
Kings, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and
At the Groundwater Resources Association’s Western Groundwater
Congress, a panel of experts discussed emerging issues as
agencies work to develop their plans to comply with the
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which became law in
California in 2014.
The USDA estimates gross cash receipts for the dairy industry
to be down 9 percent from the previous year but estimates
poultry receipts to be 7 percent higher. After several years of
strong production, gross receipts for tree fruit and nuts are
expected to be slightly lower. Likewise, vegetable gross
receipts are expected to be down slightly, though consumption
During severe winter storms, Cold Springs Creek above Montecito
turns into a torrent of mud, uprooted trees and shed-size
boulders as it drains three square miles of sheer mountain
front. The only thing protecting the people, homes and
businesses below is a low dam that the Army Corps of Engineers
built in 1964 at the mouth of the creek’s canyon, forming a
basin between the steep banks to catch the crashing debris.
This 2-day, 1-night tour offered participants the opportunity to
learn about water issues affecting California’s scenic Central
Coast and efforts to solve some of the challenges of a region
struggling to be sustainable with limited local supplies that
have potential applications statewide.
In the process of removing the San Clemente Dam in 2015,
workers created a pristine route for the Carmel River, complete
with step pools and nicely arranged boulders. Winter floods
have since transformed the river route into anything but
pristine, but the “messy” course has been good for the native
In the wake of filing lawsuits in state Supreme Court
challenging approval of the California American Water
desalination project approval, the Marina Coast Water District
and the city of Marina have both filed petitions with the state
Public Utilities Commission for rehearing of the desal project
In a widely anticipated move, the city of Marina and the
Marina Coast Water District filed lawsuits last week in
state Supreme Court challenging the California Public
Utilities Commission’s approval of California American Water’s
After six and a half years of review, the state Public
Utilities Commission on Thursday approved a permit for
California American Water’s Monterey Peninsula Water Supply
Project, including a North Marina desalination plant.
In a sign of how seriously the state Public Utilities
Commission is taking the debate over the future of water supply
on the Monterey Peninsula, all five commissioners attended a
CPUC oral argument hearing on California American Water’s
proposed desalination project in San Francisco on Wednesday.
Several of those who attended the hearing said three of the
five commissioners asked a number of questions of the parties
to the desal project proceeding, and all five appeared “engaged
and interested” in the issue.
In a major development for California American Water’s
long-sought desalination project, the California Public
Utilities Commission has issued a proposed decision
recommending approval of the proposal known as the Monterey
Peninsula Water Supply Project.
After a protracted legal battle, a California Public Utilities
Commission ruling has been issued requiring California American
Water to release by this week unredacted [Monterey] county
Water Resources Agency invoices for work on the long-defunct
regional desalination project at the heart of a $1.9 million
settlement agreement between the two.
Spurred by drought and a major
policy shift, groundwater management has assumed an unprecedented
mantle of importance in California. Local agencies in the
hardest-hit areas of groundwater depletion are drawing plans to
halt overdraft and bring stressed aquifers to the road of
Protect Monterey County, the organization that backed a 2016
anti-fracking ballot initiative called Measure Z, announced it
filed an appeal this week challenging a judge’s ruling that
invalidated part of the ordinance.
Several parties including the Monterey Peninsula mayors
regional water authority have called for delaying California
American Water’s proposed Marina desalination plant for a year
or more to allow pursuit of a proposed Pure Water Monterey
recycled water expansion and continued settlement talks in an
attempt to avoid litigation.
More than half of a $173.5 million U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency award to California for drinking water and
wastewater infrastructure upgrades will be designated for the
Pure Water Monterey recycled water project.
On Thursday, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
special agent Don Tanner confirmed the investigation will be
conducted into the incident involving the spill of up to 4.9
million gallons of untreated wastewater into the bay from the
Monterey One Water treatment plant.
An investigation will be conducted into the failure of a
computer warning system at the Monterey One Water regional
treatment plant which allowed millions of gallons of untreated
sewage to flow into the Monterey Bay for more than eight hours
late Friday night and early Saturday morning. According to
Monterey One Water General Manager Paul Sciuto, the
investigation began Monday morning and will be conducted by the
consulting firm Pinnacle ART.
Taxpayers may not realize it, but they foot the bill as their
city or county complies with new state regulations to improve
the health of local streams and waterways. Nicole Beck, 49, a
UC Santa Cruz alum with a doctorate in aquatic chemistry, is
marrying science and software to help city and county staff get
information to make better decisions on where to focus their
The joint ground-mapping pilot project is designed to help
Soquel Creek Water District and the County of Santa Cruz locate
sandy soil areas to install collection basins and dry wells for
easier passage for stormwater runoff to return to underground
Attorneys on all sides began presenting their cases on the
first day of the Measure Z trial on Monday, arguing over
whether the voter-approved initiative establishing some of the
nation’s toughest oil and gas restrictions is preempted by
federal and state authority. … They [oil industry
attorneys] argued the Measure Z campaign had misled voters into
believing the central issue was fracking and water protection
without fully addressing other aspects of the initiative.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors of the Water Resources
Agency approved up to $500,000 for state-mandated emergency
repair work to the county-owned Lake San Antonio and Lake
Nacimiento dam spillways dubbed “minimum requirements” to allow
the dam spillways to continue operating, with additional,
classified assessments still being finalized that could result
in further repairs.
It’s not every day that logging practices are put to use to
restore salmon habitat. But for the past two weeks along the
foggy, redwood-strewn banks of San Vicente Creek that’s exactly
what has been taking place.
A number of challenges facing the proposed Interlake Tunnel
project, including resistance from landowners near Lake
Nacimiento, have delayed the proposal again by about six
months. … The tunnel proposal calls for connecting
Nacimiento and neighboring Lake San Antonio, in Monterey
County, to allow water diversion from the former to the latter
during higher flow periods.
Tommy Williams rips through an Alka Seltzer packet,
dropping the antacids into a bucket of water teeming with
juvenile steelhead trout. He has several minutes to
work before the anesthetizing effect wears off and the fish
Western monarch butterflies, which crowd trees along the
California coast every winter and flush them with color, have
declined so dramatically since the 1980s that the species will
likely go extinct in the next few decades if nothing is done,
scientists said Thursday in a population study of the treasured
A plan to enhance steelhead trout rearing and holding habitat
in the Carmel River Lagoon by placing tons of organic materials
in the waterway is on schedule to come to fruition on Sept. 20
after nine years of preparation.
One little bird is raising big hopes for the re-wilding of a
special species. A fuzzy gray condor chick — the first-ever
“second generation” wild-born condor in a long and hard
recovery plan for the endangered birds — has been discovered in
a redwood tree in Big Sur.
The coastal town of Davenport, gateway to the new Cotoni-Coast
Dairies National Monument and home to 100 households, may be
running out of water. The problem started in February when
storms damaged the water intake at San Vicente Creek that
provided the town with water.
It’s expected to cost area agri-businesses about $1 million to
provide bottled water to lower-income Salinas Valley residents
whose water supply has been contaminated by nitrates in the
first year of a pilot program.
State Public Utilities Commission officials are seeking input
on whether to conduct new hearings on California American
Water’s proposed Monterey Peninsula desalination project to
address a number of issues, potentially including an updated
project demand forecast and desal plant sizing evaluation that
could lead to a smaller initial plant that could be more easily
expanded as demand grows in the future.
Lauded as a model for regional collaboration and innovation,
and even the “wave of the future” for the rest of California,
the Pure Water Monterey recycled water project was universally
praised by a group of dignitaries at a groundbreaking ceremony
Machine Gun Flats Lake sits placidly in a natural depression on
what was once an Army training area. It is one of about 45
vernal pools on Bureau of Land Management land on Fort Ord,
teeming with life after an exceptionally wet rainy season, and
a welcome sight after years of drought.
A California American Water official argued the company’s
desalination project can secure key permits and approvals
within six months of certification of the final project
environmental review document and start construction shortly
afterward, despite a series of delays involving the draft
report and the prospect of seeking a critical permit from the
city of Marina.
Mineral rights and royalty owners have filed a new lawsuit
against Monterey County, challenging voter-approved Measure Z,
which establishes some of the nation’s toughest restrictions on
oil and gas operations in the state’s fourth-largest
oil-producing county. … Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking,
and wastewater injection into aquifers will still be prohibited
during the stay.
A Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary representative said
the latest delay involving California American Water’s proposed
Monterey Peninsula desalination project — a 30-day extension of
the public comment period on the project’s draft combined state
and federal environmental review document — could push back
finalization of the report by a month.
The Monterey County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously
approved a letter to the California Department of Conservation
expressing their concerns about a proposal to expand the
boundaries of an aquifer where oil-production wastewater is
ARkStorm stands for an atmospheric
river (“AR”) that carries precipitation levels expected to occur
once every 1,000 years (“k”). The concept was presented in a 2011
report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) intended to elevate
the visibility of the very real threats to human life, property
and ecosystems posed by extreme storms on the West Coast.
A new ruling issued by a state Public Utilities Commission
member has indicated the full commission likely wouldn’t
consider approval of California American Water’s Monterey
Peninsula desalination project until March 2018, four months
after company officials had hoped, and suggested that
consideration could be delayed even further.
Lake Cachuma, a giant reservoir built to hold Santa Barbara
County’s drinking water, has all but vanished in California’s
historic drought. It reached an all-time low this summer —
7 percent capacity, which left a thick beige watermark
that circles the hills framing the lake like an enormous
With the passage of Measure Z, which has captured nearly 56
percent of the vote so far, Monterey County would become the
first oil-producing county in California to ban fracking and
expansion of risky oil operations. … Monterey County,
which ranks fourth statewide in oil production, becomes the
sixth county in California to ban fracking.
Outgoing Rep. Sam Farr addressed a 23-member panel bringing
together local representatives from four counties, the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers, municipal flood control staff members
and the two candidates running to replace him on Nov. 8, Casey
Lucius and Jimmy Panetta.
The good news for humans and other mammals, said UC Santa Cruz
professor Raphael Kudela, is that the stink and clingy nature
of the foamy water at beaches around Monterey Bay is the worst
of it, because the algal bloom is not producing a toxin.
Mired in drought, expectations are high that new storage funded
by Prop. 1 will be constructed to help California weather the
adverse conditions and keep water flowing to homes and farms.
At the same time, there are some dams in the state eyed for
removal because they are obsolete – choked by accumulated
sediment, seismically vulnerable and out of compliance with
federal regulations that require environmental balance.
Backers of a new Monterey Bay desalination project think they
have found a fix for the environmental problems posed by most
seawater intakes: Instead of drawing seawater from the beach,
they plan to draw from the one of the world’s deepest marine
In what local water activist Ron Weitzman promises is a
precursor to further litigation, the Water Ratepayers
Association of the Monterey Peninsula has filed suit against
the state Coastal Commission and Monterey County seeking to
halt California American Water’s slant test well program for
the proposed desalination plant project.
Promised state funding for the increasingly costly Interlake
Tunnel project in legislation backed by Assemblyman Luis Alejo,
D-Watsonville, has been cut by 60 percent to $10 million,
potentially risking long-term project financing.
In an effort to help maintain the balance between freshwater
habitat and flood protection, the Monterey County Resource
Management Agency brought in special crews to work at the
Carmel Lagoon area Monday.
Local architect Cove Britton is seeking to correct what he
contends are inaccuracies in preliminary flood insurance rate
maps that could negatively affect his clients and their
neighbors in tony Pleasure Point. … Three years ago,
homeowners from Oregon to Maine complained about map
inaccuracies, according to Pro Publica, an investigative
journalism nonprofit that found money for FEMA’s map project
was cut by Congress.
About 100 people, from stakeholders and supporters to
dignitaries and politicians, came out to the former site of the
San Clemente Dam on Monday to celebrate the removal of the dam
and Carmel River Reroute Project.
Reversing course on conducting a series of impact studies, the
Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to place a proposed ban
on hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas well stimulation
techniques on the fall ballot.
Backers of a proposed initiative aimed at banning fracking and
other oil and gas exploration practices announced Thursday
their petition signatures have been verified and deemed
sufficient by the Monterey County registrar of voters just days
after the Board of Supervisors ordered impact studies on the
A new era of groundwater management
began in 2014 with the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater
Management Act (SGMA), which aims for local and regional agencies
to develop and implement sustainable groundwater management
plans with the state as the backstop.
SGMA defines “sustainable groundwater management” as the
“management and use of groundwater in a manner that can be
maintained during the planning and implementation horizon without
causing undesirable results.”
The group Protect Monterey County delivered 16,108 signatures
Wednesday to the Monterey County Elections Department in
support of putting an initiative on the November ballot to ban
fracking and dangerous oil production practices in the county.
Hoping to expand on similar bans already in place in Santa
Cruz, San Benito and Mendocino counties, environmentalists on
Tuesday launched a ballot campaign to prohibit fracking in
Monterey County, setting the stage for another expensive battle
with the oil industry over the controversial drilling
More than five years after the Monterey Peninsula Water
Management District was barred from collecting a user fee on
California American Water bills to pay for Carmel River
mitigation and other work, the California State Supreme Court
ruled the state Public Utilities Commission had no authority
over the fee.
California American Water’s latest Monterey Peninsula water
supply project cost estimates show a larger desalination plant
would cost the same as previous estimates, but a smaller desal
plant would be more expensive. That would potentially squeeze
the cost of a supplemental recycled water project unless it
qualifies for grants and low-cost financing.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an
amended water recycling agreement between the county Water
Resources Agency and the Monterey Regional Water Pollution
Control Agency, the primary backer of the groundwater
replenishment project also known as Pure Water Monterey.
A critical source water agreement for the proposed Monterey
Peninsula groundwater replenishment project, and expanded North
Monterey County agricultural irrigation, is headed to the Board
of Supervisors on Tuesday after the county Water Resources
Agency board blessed it Monday.
A groundwater replenishment project aimed at providing the
Monterey Peninsula with potable recycled water continued to
forge ahead of California American Water’s desalination project
during a state Public Utilities Commission hearing Monday.
California American Water is expected to resume pumping from
its stalled Monterey Peninsula desalination project test slant
well operation by early November after the Coastal Commission
gave its unanimous approval Tuesday.
Saltwater intrusion challenges nearly every town and farm
district in California that borders the Pacific. Many have been
fighting back the ocean for generations. Bulletin 52, the first
state report to document the salt problem in the Salinas
Valley, a farming center just south of Watsonville, was
published in 1946.
A more thorough, joint environmental review of the oft-delayed
Monterey Peninsula desalination project by the Monterey Bay
National Marine Sanctuary and the state Public Utilities
Commission will likely take about a year to draft and finalize,
according to representatives of both agencies.
This week, the BBC and PBS are showcasing the success story of
Monterey Bay in a series of live prime-time television events
called “Big Blue Live.” … As a member of the Santa Cruz City
Council in the 1980s, I [California Natural Resources Agency
Secretary John Laird] was part of a regional effort to
designate the Monterey Bay as a National Marine Sanctuary.
Facing another delay on California American Water’s
desalination project, the Monterey Peninsula regional water
authority weighed in this week on the major reasons for the
delay — the apparent Geoscience conflicts of interest and the
stalled test well operation.
California American Water officials have acknowledged using
patented slant well technology by Geoscience president Dennis
Williams in the Monterey Peninsula desalination project after
previously denying it.
Santa Barbara City Council members on Tuesday unanimously
approved spending $55 million to reactivate a mothballed
desalination plant that could provide the city with
nearly a third of its drinking water.
In order to sort out an apparent conflict of interest and its
fallout, the state Public Utilities Commission on Thursday
extended the public review period for California American
Water’s latest desalination project’s draft environmental
impact report by nearly three months.
California American Water and a group of experts will be asked
to prove regional agricultural irrigation pumping caused most,
if not all, of the decrease in north Marina groundwater levels
that halted pumping of the Monterey Peninsula desalination
project’s test slant well last month.
Soquel Creek Water District leaders are looking at purchasing a
new piece of water main-flushing technology as one of several
potential water-saving projects that they could fund through
fees paid by new district development permits.
Santa Barbara, known for its landscapes fed by coastal fog, has
always had a cautious relationship with water. And its history
of conservation may hold lessons for other upscale communities
such as Beverly Hills and Rancho Santa Fe being forced to slash
their hefty water consumption because of the drought.
For the second time in less than a month, Monterey Peninsula
business leaders are seeking a legal and technical analysis of
California American Water’s desalination project in an effort
to sniff out any issues that could potentially further delay or
derail the proposal.
The decision, approved in a 3-2 vote, aligned with results of a
recent [Soquel Creek Water] district phone survey of 300
customers, 90 percent of who said they were already doing
everything they could to conserve water and who were less
supportive of mandatory water rationing and penalties.
For nearly 25 years, the desal plant has sat unused. That’s
about to change. As nearby beachgoers swam, sailed and paddle
boarded on an overcast morning last week, Santa Barbara
officials showed off those tanks and pumps, describing their
plan to turn seawater into drinking water.
California American Water submitted a draft petition to the
state water board last month aimed at delaying the deadline for
reducing its river water pumping by four years from the end of
2016 to 2020. It promised to meet a series of milestones
including completion of a desalination plant capable of
providing a replacement water source for the Peninsula by the
Reclamation has released for public review environmental
documents for the proposed zebra mussel eradication project for
San Justo Reservoir, the Hollister Conduit and the San Benito
County Water District’s distribution system. The proposed
treatment is to use potash which has been shown to be effective
in killing zebra mussels.
An oil company has sued to block San Benito County’s
voter-approved fracking ban in a move that could affect the
growing trend of California cities and counties’ efforts to
stop the controversial oil drilling practice of hydraulic
In drought-ridden California, many water bills are calculated
using a basic principle: The more water a customer uses, the
higher the rate. It’s a strategy water districts employ to
This winter, a large sandbar planted itself in front of the
Salinas River, not an unusual phenomenon on waterways
throughout the Central Coast. But as the waters rose behind it
— threatening and, once heavy rains hit, eventually flooding
crops — county water officials could not push the wall of sand
The first step toward finding solutions to long-standing
groundwater overdraft in the Pajaro Valley was to acknowledge
the problem and agriculture’s contribution to it, said Miles
Reiter, chairman and CEO of Driscoll’s Strawberry Associates
A state Public Utilities Commission judge will allow public
debate over the proposed regional desalination project
settlement agreement between California American Water and
Monterey County later this month, delaying the commission’s
scheduled review on Thursday.
After resisting disclosure, Monterey Peninsula Regional Water
Authority president Jason Burnett released a draft proposal
late Tuesday aimed at delaying a state-ordered cutback in
pumping from the Carmel River by four years.
This handbook provides crucial
background information on the Sustainable Groundwater Management
Act, signed into law in 2014 by Gov. Jerry Brown. The handbook
also includes a section on options for new governance.
The enterprise has been known locally as the California Flats
Solar project and Arizona-based First Solar is building the
facility. It was given the thumbs up from the county planning
commission in January. It is expected to get final approval
from Monterey County Supervisors on Tuesday.
After receiving nearly 160 percent of normal rainfall in
November and December — thus causing Santa Cruz to suspend
mandatory water rationing for residential customers — the
driest January on record stands as a stark reminder of how
vulnerable the water supply is to nature’s mood swings.
With December’s deluge now a distant memory and a bone-dry,
unseasonably warm January coming to a close, even a wet
February and early spring likely won’t help the historic
drought conditions affecting Monterey County and the rest of
the state, according to a National Weather Service expert.
A year after forming a special panel to evaluate future water
supply options, the Santa Cruz City Council on Tuesday agreed
to extend the group’s timeline for making recommendations and
increase spending for a facilitator to guide the work.
From building a tunnel connecting two south county reservoirs
to clearing the Salinas River and dealing with its
half-century-old river diversion permit to managing the Salinas
Valley groundwater basin — not to mention the promise of a
recently approved $7.5 billion state water bond — Monterey
County and its water resources agency are facing an
unprecedented number of crucial water-related issues.
Although Soquel Creek Water District officials pulled the plug
last year on a $3 million mandated conservation program, the
agency soon will roll out some components of the initiative
designed to reverse groundwater overdraft.
Santa Barbara County water agencies announced Friday that they
will receive $2 million in state funding for a pumping project
at Cachuma Lake — a source of drinking water for 220,000 people
on the southern central coast — where water levels have dropped
Residents are getting a sample of Santa Cruz County’s
summer-like weather this weekend as temperatures are expected
to reach into the 70s. … The weather is the latest stage of
the unseasonably warm and dry weather hovering around as
California enters its fourth year of drought.
Deadlines for meeting a new state mandate to balance the
overdrafted Salinas Valley groundwater basin are years away,
but Monterey County water and agricultural industry leaders are
calling for the local process to begin immediately.
A split Marina Coast Water District board decided to resume its
previous quest for a desalination plant, with a goal of
providing a new potable water supply within two years to new
development in Fort Ord, including Monterey Downs.
Last year, as drought gripped California,
[Javier] Zamora’s bills for water and the electricity that
runs the pump at his well skyrocketed. But this year, he
invested in a new irrigation system that’s dramatically cutting
his costs and water consumption.
The plan, which would establish the Santa Cruz Redwoods
National Monument, could bring national attention to the
bucolic oceanfront land along Highway 1 between Santa Cruz and
Davenport. … On Feb. 12, Bruce Babbitt, who served as
U.S interior secretary under President Bill Clinton, will
travel to Santa Cruz for a free public event at 6 p.m. at the
Kaiser Permanente Arena to kick off the campaign and answer
California’s drought declaration has triggered only local
limits such as restrictions on washing cars or watering lawns
for most communities, but one Pacific Coast tourist town has
seized it as an opportunity to build a long-desired
The coastal tourist town of Cambria, located just below Big Sur
and adjacent to Hearst Castle on California’s central coast,
will begin pumping about 300 gallons a minute of treated water
into the local aquifer this week. The new water source is part
of a controversial emergency solution—built just this fall—to
keep the community from running dry.
For up to nine months, Abby will raise her little adoptee, and
when 671 is ready, she will be released into a protected inland
salt marsh called Elkhorn Slough, just off Monterey Bay. That’s
where 671 will set to work to preserve the estuary, says Tim
Tinker, who tracks otters for the U.S. Geological Survey.
The Carmel River had just begun flowing after the recent rains,
prompting Lorin Letendre and several others to hike up to a
ridge above the San Clemente Dam in Monterey County this past
week to see the surging stream. … The new river channel will
allow workers to take down the dam structure next year without
worrying about a catastrophic mudslide.
Is it over? We’re not talking about the storm that hit Northern
California and the Central Coast Thursday, inspiring
apocalyptic media coverage and leading to store shelves being
stripped of flashlight batteries and tarps.
The deluge meteorologists warned about, deemed to be the
strongest to hit Monterey County in seven years, arrived and it
delivered floods, road closures, power outages and plenty of
rain throughout Thursday.
Ahead of a storm that is expected to drench the Monterey Bay
region, Santa Cruz officials announced Monday the temporary
lifting of mandatory residential water rationing and fines in
favor of maintaining voluntary conservation at drought-driven
Testimony concluded on Friday in the regional desalination
project trial in San Francisco Superior Court, with a
preliminary ruling not expected until February. … In a
separate suit, Cal Am is seeking to relocate a Sacramento
County Superior Court challenge filed by Marina Coast seeking
to halt the company’s slant test well project for its current
desal proposal, asking a judge to move the case to Monterey
If you were plotting the epicenter of a daring trend or
gathering the vanguard for a revolutionary charge, San Benito
County might not be the first place you’d start. … But after
a stunning election victory, residents of this farming region
find themselves on the sharp edge of a growing movement to ban
hydraulic fracturing via local voter initiatives.
A proposal to deliver wastewater from a Toro-area community
services district to the regional treatment plant for recycling
could be a key part of any Monterey County Board of Supervisors
approval of the Ferrini Ranch development.
Construction is under way on a 26-home sustainable community in
San Luis Obispo. … The site has been built with local water
issues in mind as well: There will be an on-site storm water
management and “rain-store” retention system …
Officials with the Cambria Community Services District plan to
flip the switch Nov. 15 on a $9 million desalination plant that
will provide the community with a desperately needed new supply
of drinking water.
The Coastal Commission will consider California American
Water’s proposed slant test well project at its meeting
Wednesday, and it’s hard to imagine that the commission will go
against its own staff recommendation, which is to allow Cal Am
Imagine harvesting your own water — no water utility, no
monthly water bill. Instead, you have equipped your home with a
rain catchment system or atmospheric water generator, and
connected it to your tap. Monterey will soon be a site for just
such an experiment.
Last month, I packed up my household vegetable garden in Fargo,
N.D., about 2,000 miles to the northeast of California’s
Central Coast. … I’d visited Salinas this summer, as an
agricultural journalist among a tour group of writers and
California American Water has reached a deal with Cemex to
allow drilling of slant test wells, and possibly production
wells, for its proposed Monterey Peninsula desalination project
at the north Marina sand mining plant.
Already among the best at conserving water in the state for
several years, the Monterey Peninsula still managed to cut its
water use even further this summer and ranks among the state’s
most efficient water users.
Santa Cruz’s tough water restrictions are paying off. With the
lowest water use per capita, the city is doing the best job at
conserving water in the state, according to the State Water
Resources Control Board report released this week.
Mendocino County voters have overwhelmingly approved a ballot
initiative banning fracking in the county, joining San Benito
County in saying no to the controversial method of extracting
oil and gas from deep within rock formations.