Stakeholder Groups, California American Water and Castroville Community Services District Negotiate
PACIFIC GROVE, Calif. (January 12, 2015) – Lawyers for the Salinas Valley Water Coalition, Monterey County Farm Bureau, LandWatch Monterey County, and the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority have agreed on a draft term sheet with California American Water and the Castroville Community Services District that would dedicate a portion of the water produced by the proposed Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project desalination facility to serve the water-challenged community of Castroville in North Monterey County.
“This proposal could constitute a significant win for stakeholders concerned that any groundwater drawn by the project’s intake wells stays within the Salinas River Groundwater Basin into the future,” said California American Water president Robert MacLean. “The terms also represent a win for the people and water needs of Castroville and the Monterey Peninsula.”
Wells serving Castroville are being threatened by salt water intrusion as a result of decades of excessive upstream pumping. Under the proposal, the Castroville Community Services District would purchase approximately 800 acre feet of desalinated water per year to replace its current groundwater supply. As part of its water sup
ply project, California American Water committed to return for use in the Salinas Basin any portion of Salinas Basin groundwater drawn from its proposed slant well intake system, located in North Marina. Delivering the water to Castroville, which is also located in the basin, would satisfy this commitment and also other obligations that may arise as part of the approval process for the project.
“From day one we have been adamant that any export of groundwater from the Salinas River Groundwater Basin to the Peninsula would violate the Monterey County Water Resources Agency Act,” said Salinas Valley Water Coalition president Nancy Isakson. “The terms laid out in this planning document would ensure that all groundwater from the Salinas River Groundwater Basin is returned to the basin, and I believe, will ensure potential harm to the Salinas River Groundwater Basin water right holders is avoided.”
California American Water’s source water slant wells are designed to draw about 96 percent seawater and 4% brackish groundwater at the western boundary of the Salinas Basin. Under the proposed terms released today, Castroville Community Services District would fund a three-mile pipeline to connect to California American Water’s water supply project and purchase the return water. Environmental study of the pipeline would be included in the water supply project’s EIR and construction work for the pipeline would be performed by California American Water contractors.
“Assuring that source water does not harm the Salinas Basin is the largest outstanding issue for the successful completion of the desal plant and today’s announcement is a major step forward,” said Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority president Jason Burnett. “Resolving return water for the project will reduce the threat of litigation, will provide assurances to diverse stakeholders including agricultural and environmental interests and will provide some direct benefit to ratepayers on the Monterey Peninsula. I look forward to hearing from the public and my colleagues on whether we have struck the right balance between the diverse interests.”
The term sheet will now be open for public comment and board review at the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority meeting January 14th at 5 p.m. at Seaside City Hall and at the Castroville Community Services District meeting January 19th at 4:30 p.m. at 11499 Geil Street in Castroville. The parties aim to submit the signed term sheet to the California Public Utilities Commission on January 22. The term sheet itself would not be legally effective until a Final Environmental Impact Report for the water supply project is certified and other approvals obtained, which is expected to occur near the end of this year. For more information on the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply project, visit www.watersupplyproject.org.