Author Archives: PWM

Revised Draft Engineering Report Available

For the project to begin operations, MRWPCA must obtain a number of permits from the State. One of these is a groundwater replenishment permit issued by the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) in consultation with the State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water (DDW). As part of the process to obtain this RWQCB permit, on January 29, 2016, MWRPCA submitted a draft Engineering Report to DDW for approval and to the RWQCB for review. The draft report provides information about the project and how it complies with public health and water quality regulations. On April 15, 2016, DDW provided comments on the initial draft Engineering Report. MRWPCA revised and submitted a revised draft Engineering Report on May 25, 2016. On July 1, 2016, DDW sent a letter to MRWPCA that stated the Revised Draft Engineering Report was ready for posting for a public hearing with one minor text edit.   The Revised Draft Engineering Report, dated July 1, 2016, is available here for viewing.

The other steps for issuance of the RWQCB permit include the following activities. MRWPCA will provide updates as the project advances through these steps.

Step 1. The DDW and the RWQCB will review the draft Engineering Report and may provide MRWPCA with comments or questions. When the regulatory comments/questions have been resolved to the satisfaction of the regulators, MRWPCA will prepare a final draft report. This step was completed July 1, 2016.

Step 2. MRWPCA will hold a public hearing for the project on August 22, 2016 from 2:00 to 3:30 PM. Information on the project is currently available to the public for review 30 days before the hearing, including the hearing notification, information that will be provided at the hearing, and the final draft Engineering report. A public notice was posted in the “Legal Notices” section of the Classifieds (page B5) in the Monterey Herald Newspaper on July 19, 2016 and sent by U.S. Mail to all owners of wells located within the Seaside Groundwater Basin boundary. Public comments will be accepted at the public hearing and during a 10-day public comment period following the hearing.  Specifically, comments may be submitted in writing through September 1, 2016 at 5:00 PM.

Step 3. Based on comments received during the hearing or comment period, MRWPCA will finalize the Engineering Report for submittal to the DDW and RWQCB.

Step 4. The DDW will send a letter to the RWQCB recommending that the RWQCB issue a permit for the project as well as any permit conditions that DDW recommends for inclusion in the permit.

Step 5. The RWQCB will issue a tentative permit for public review and comment, and will provide a public comment period of approximately 30 days. The RWQCB will hold a public hearing on the tentative permit for consideration of adoption by its Board.

This entry was posted in News & Announcements on July 20, 2016 by PWM.

Final Environmental Impact Report Released For Pure Water Monterey Project

For Immediate Release

Media Contacts:
Paul A. Sciuto
Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency
831.645.4600
paul@mrwpca.com

MRWPCA Board to Consider Certification and Project Approval at Public Hearing

Monterey, Calif., September 25, 2015 —The Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency (MRWPCA) and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD) are pleased to jointly announce the release of the Pure Water Monterey Groundwater Replenishment Project’s Final Environmental Impact Report (Final EIR). The MRWPCA Board of Directors will consider certifying the Final EIR and approving the Project at a public hearing on Thursday, October 8, 2015 at 3:30pm. The meeting will be held at the MRWPCA Administrative Office.

Pure Water Monterey is a multi-region, multi-benefit project that addresses the water supply needs of the Monterey Peninsula and the Salinas Valley. The project will deliver purified recycled water for replenishment of the Seaside Groundwater Basin and subsequent delivery to Monterey Peninsula urban water customers, and also deliver additional tertiary treated water to the Salinas Valley for agricultural irrigation and to help reduce groundwater pumping in that area.

“The future of water is here,” explained Paul A. Sciuto, General Manager of the MRWPCA, one of the project partners. “Pure Water Monterey addresses multiple water related issues including supply, treatment and environmental mitigation in two distinct regions, while delivering water for residential, business, industrial and agricultural uses.”

The Final EIR can be found at www.purewatermonterey.org. The Draft EIR was released to the public in April of this year and provided the required 45-day review period for comment. The Final EIR addresses the comments received on the Draft EIR and also contains revisions, updates and clarifications to the Draft EIR in response to the public comments. Additional information can be found in the official Notice of Public Hearing which can also be accessed on the Pure Water Monterey website. Spanish interpretation will be provided at the hearing.

The Public Hearing will be held at the following location:

MRWPCA Administrative Office
5 Harris Court, Bldg D
Monterey, CA 93940

October 8, 2015 • 3:30pm

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About Pure Water Monterey

Pure Water Monterey will provide both purified potable water for domestic use, as well as a supply for irrigating one of the state’s most fertile agricultural areas in the Salinas Valley. The project will be the first of its kind to utilize not just wastewater, but stormwater, food industry processing water, and impaired surface waters of the State. It is a partnership between the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District and the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency with additional project participation by the Monterey County Water Resources Agency, the City of Salinas, the Marina Coast Water District and the Salinas Valley Agricultural Community.

Pure Water Monterey Announces Release of Draft Environmental Impact Report

For Immediate Release

Media Contacts:
David J. Stoldt
Monterey Peninsula Water Management District
831.658.5650/dstoldt@mpwmd.net
Keith Israel
Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency
831.372.3367/keith@mrwpca.com

Pure Water Monterey Announces Release of Draft Environmental Impact Report

Project Will Provide Water for Monterey Peninsula and Salinas Valley

Monterey, Calif.,  April 22, 2015 — The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD) and the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency (MRWPCA) are proud to jointly announce the release of the Pure Water Monterey Groundwater Replenishment Project Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). Pure Water Monterey is a multi-region, multi-benefit project that addresses the water supply needs of the Monterey Peninsula and the Salinas Valley by not only delivering highly purified  water for replenishment of the Seaside Groundwater Basin, but also delivering additional tertiary treated water to the Salinas Valley for agricultural irrigation, thereby reducing groundwater pumping in that area.

“The future of water is here,” explained Dave Stoldt, General Manager of the MPWMD and one of the project partners. “This project is truly revolutionary in that it addresses multiple water related issues including supply, treatment and environmental mitigation in two distinct regions while delivering water for residential, business, industrial and agricultural uses.”

The DEIR can be found at www.purewatermonterey.org and the public is encouraged to review and comment on the document during the established 45-day period that opens today and closes on June 5, 2015 at 5pm. These comments will then be addressed in the Final EIR. The public is also invited to two separate public information meetings. There, attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about the project during a presentation followed by a question and answer period where the project’s DEIR will be discussed. Spanish translation will be provided at each ADA accessible location.

“The MRWPCA has been in the business of treating and recycling water for many years,” said MRWPCA General Manager Keith Israel. “Pure Water Monterey is a natural progression forward and is a critical component of solving our region’s water supply issues. Not only is it an environmentally responsible project, but it is projected to be online and delivering water by the fall of 2017. This is important as it shows the State Water Resources Control Board that Monterey County is serious about the future of our water.”

All comments regarding the DEIR under the State of California’s CEQA process should be directed via mail, email or fax to:

By Mail:

Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency
Administrative Office
ATTN: Bob Holden, Principal Engineer
5 Harris Ct. Bldg. D • Monterey, CA • 93940

By Email: gwr@mrwpca.com
By Fax: (831) 372-6178

When faxing comments, please also email or send a physical copy of the correspondence to the above address to ensure receipt.

The Public Information Meetings will be held at the following locations where written comments regarding the Draft EIR will also be accepted:

May 20, 2015
Oldemeyer Center
986 Hilby Avenue
Seaside, CA 93955
6pm-8pm

May 21, 2015
Hartnell College
Room B-208 (Student Services Building)
411 Central Avenue
Salinas, CA 93901
4pm to 6pm

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About Pure Water Monterey

Pure Water Monterey is a multi-region, multi-benefit advanced water purification project that will recycle and deliver highly treated waste, storm, agricultural and impaired waters to the residents, businesses and agricultural interests of Monterey County. It is a partnership between the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District and the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency with additional project participation by the Monterey County Water Resources  Agency, the City of Salinas, the Marina Coast Water District and the Salinas Valley Agricultural Community.

EIR notice fleshes out groundwater replenishment project details

By Jim Johnson, Monterey Herald, 12/18/14

Marina — A year and a half after environmental review began, the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Agency has released a more detailed description of the proposed Pure Water Monterey Groundwater Replenishment Project for public review.

Designed to convert wastewater into highly treated potable water for storage and later use on the Monterey Peninsula, the recycled water project has been fleshed out as a result of engineering and technical studies, as well as a preliminary source water agreement for the project between five parties since the environmental review process began in mid-2013.

That prompted release of a supplemental notice of preparation for the project’s environmental impact report that spells out the additional detail involving the project’s use of various wastewater sources, a drought reserve plan, and a revised facilities plan.

Water Pollution Control Agency general manager Keith Israel said the document was released to avoid any delay as a result of legal challenge to the project’s environmental review process. He added the release won’t affect the project schedule calling for the draft environmental impact report to be released in March.

“The last thing we wanted was to get slowed down,” Israel said.

The supplemental notice is available for public review at the agency offices, 5 Harris Court, Building D, in Monterey’s Ryan Ranch, and online at www.purewatermonterey.org, as well as at public libraries in Monterey, Carmel, Carmel Valley, Seaside, Marina, Salinas and Castroville.

Public comments are being accepted through Jan. 8.

A definitive source water agreement consisting of a series of bi-lateral agreements between the five parties is under negotiation and is still expected to be finished by March, according to Israel. Others close to the talks have suggested a final conclusion may stretch into April or later.

In addition to the agency and Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, the Monterey County water resources agency, the Marina Coast Water District, and the city of Salinas are all parties to the preliminary agreement and the ongoing talks.

The project proposal calls for producing 3,500 acre-feet of the highly treated water per year for injection into the Seaside basin as a supplement to the Peninsula water supply project led by California American Water’s desalination project. It would also produce up to 5,292 acre-feet of water per year for farmland irrigation as part of the broad agreement to allow the use of Peninsula municipal wastewater and urban stormwater runoff, agricultural produce wash water, and contaminated surface water from the Salinas-area Reclamation Ditch and Blanco Drain for the project.

Key updates to the project description include:

  • Specific volume of treated water for farmland irrigation as part of the project’s source water pact, allowing an evaluation of the cumulative impact of tapping various wastewater sources.
  • A new drought reserve, which would provide for depositing an additional 200 acre-feet of the treated potable water into the Seaside basin during wet years up to a total of 1,000 acre-feet. The water would be used to supplement Cal Am’s potable water needs during dry years, avoiding the need to tap source water designated for farmland irrigation.
  • Project-specific facilities upgrades and operational changes involving the Salinas Valley Reclamation Project treatment plant capacity, the Tembladero Slough (Rec Ditch) diversion location, the method of conveying ag produce wash water from the Salinas city treatment facility, the location of injection into the Seaside basin, and inclusion of Cal Am’s proposed new water distribution pipelines.

Meanwhile, Israel announced last week that he plans to retire in June, about when the final project EIR is due to be released, after 26 years with the agency.

Changes to proposed groundwater replenishment project open to public comment

by Sara Rubin, Monterey County Weekly, 12/14/14

Weather like this can almost make you forget there’s a serious water supply problem around here.

But California American Water still faces a 2016 deadline to cut back on pumping from the Carmel River by 70 percent, and each of three components of its water supply project are trickling forward.

One contentious project, groundwater replenishment, is estimated to provide up to 3,500 acre-feet of water per year to Cal Am customers. It would come from wastewater—the stuff that flows down the drain or flushes down the toilet—that flows to the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency’s plant in Marina for treatment.

After months of negotiations over who is entitled to how much recycled wastewater, MRWPCA and other parties have advanced to “an agreement to agree” on how to fairly divvy it up.

That agreement is one feature of a supplement to MRWPCA’s environmental documents, which was published and opened to public comment this week. (It’s a notice of preparation of an environmental impact report; the full EIR with more specifics on the project will come at a later date).

The key changes to the project include:

The sourcewater agreement, which pledges up to 3,500 acre-feet per year of highly treated recycled water, and up to 5,292 acre-feet per year to the Monterey County Water Resources Agency to use for irrigation of Castroville-area crops;

In wet years, injecting up to 1,000 acre-feet per year into the Seaside Basin as a drought reserve;

A new pipeline for intake from Tembladero Slough, which is part of the Reclamation Ditch system;

Inclusion of washwater from Salinas salad-washing plants, which would first be mixed with municipal wastewater form Salina and delivered through an existing pipe;

Sharing two new pipelines Cal Am is already planning to build in conjunction with its proposed desalination plant, meaning MRWPCA doesn’t have to build new pipelines of its own to convey the recycled water.

Another note: The project is now called “Pure Water,” which might help the MRWPCA accomplish one of its aims: to get the public comfortable with the idea of drinking the stuff we flush down the toilet.

The addition to the notice of preparation of an EIR is available online or in hard copy at various public libraries. To submit comments, email Engineer Bob Holden at gwr@mrwpca.com. The comment period closes on Jan. 8.

Monterey Peninsula faces tough choices to meet water deadlines and needs

By Larry Sokoloff, California Planning & Development Report, 10/15/14

From many vantage points, the Monterey Peninsula looks idyllic. But it’s always been a mess when it comes to water politics.

Throw in a long stalemate on solutions among the stakeholders, along with a disliked private water utility, administrative and judicial orders to cut back existing water supplies, no connections to state water – and a drought – and it’s hard to see a clear path out of this morass.

Local leaders say they’ve come up with three possible solutions in the past year: building a large desalination plant, increasing use of recycled wastewater, and using winter overflows from the Carmel River to recharge the nearby Seaside Basin. Still, they’ve got some tight deadlines to meet in order to escape a dire future with less water. And the desalination plant, arguably the most difficult piece of the puzzle, is the key, as it will produce six times as much water as recapturing winter overflows from the Carmel River.

Desalination could be a panacea for the approximately 110,000 residents of the region, which includes Monterey, Carmel, and Seaside, along with unincorporated areas like Pebble Beach and the Carmel Valley. But other than a few small projects, little progress has been made in  the past decade. A proposed $400 million regional saltwater desalination project near Marina (north of the Peninsula), to be run by the local water utility, would offset proposed cutbacks in other water supplies. But it won’t be built for at least five years.

Already a Sword of Damocles hangs over the region’s head, with water cutbacks set to occur between 2015 and 2017.

The newest entrant into the race to find a solution was the 2012 formation of a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) by the six cities on the Monterey Peninsula, called the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority.

“The challenge has been that there hasn’t been a consensus on what the water supply should look like,” said Carmel Mayor Jason Burnett, who is on the JPA. Burnett said the consensus has been reached on the three solutions in the past year.

California American Water, or Cal-Am, the local water utility, is supposed to cut its water supply from the Carmel River by 70%, according to Henrietta Stern, a project manager with the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD). That should take place by 2017, although local officials are hoping that the state will push back that deadline if progress has been made on local projects.

At the same time, the region already has to cut back its water usage to comply with another court ruling that requires it to replenish groundwater in the Seaside basin.

In 2010, the region could count on 3,300 acre feet from that source, but has had to pump out less since then. In 2015, it will only be able to pump out 2,300 acre feet of water, and by 2021, it can only take about 1,500 acre feet of water, according to David Stoldt, general manager of the MPWMD.

While desalination looks like it could be a savior, desalination proposals in the area have come and gone in recent years. A previous desalination project fell apart in 2012. And other battles have also taken place: residents tried and failed in a June ballot measure to take over privately-owned Cal-Am.

Marina, which sits to the north of the Monterey Peninsula, has its own water supply from the Salinas River basin. That water is not available to the Monterey Peninsula. In the 1990s, Marina built its own desalination plant, designed to produce 300 acre feet of water in a year, That is only enough to provide one-third of the city’s water each year. And the project is unused because energy costs were too high to run it, said Marina’s Mayor Bruce Delgado.

Monterey Peninsula officials are seeking a regional facility that can serve a much larger population. But they are looking to Marina and the area nearby for a large desalination plant because the geology to the north  makes it easier to drill, Delgado explained.

The MPWMD is currently backing two desalination proposals: one by Cal-Am one mile from the city of Marina, and another  proposed by private developers in Moss Landing. The Marina  plant would produce 7,000 to 9,000 acre feet of water per year, which is slightly less than the cutbacks expected at the Carmel River by the start of 2017.

“The problem is the large desalination project won’t be online by then,” Stern said.

Current estimates are that the Marina project won’t be done until 2019. And the 2019 date is a guess, since the city of Marina is refusing to allow Cal-Am to drill a slant well to test if the desalination project is even feasible there. The slant well would test the viability of planned beach well intakes, according to the Monterey Herald.

“Those types of delays have plagued the projects,” Stern said.

Well drilling for the desalination plant is already in dispute at the Superior Court and the state level. In September, Cal-Am filed an eminent domain lawsuit to gain access to a Marina site for slant well drilling. In addition, the California Coastal Commission takes up the matter at its November 12 meeting. Burnett explained that the Coastal Commission has jurisdiction over the portion of the well that will be drilled under the Pacific Ocean.

Delgado said that while the actual desalination plant is outside the city limits, the slant wells are proposed for a site within the city of Marina.

Delgado said the Marina City Council turned down the slant well drilling on a 3-2 vote because it wanted more environmental documents produced. “The city council majority is in favor of more information before the test slant wells can be drilled,” he said.

Another proposed desalination plant near Moss Landing might be built first, Stern said. It would rely on deeper water from the ocean that wouldn’t have the same impacts on fish and ocean life. Unlike the Marina project, no environmental impact report has been started on the Moss Landing project.

Water politics on the Monterey Peninsula have always been complicated. MPWMD was created by state legislation in 1978 to manage water issues, develop additional supplies and oversee agencies that provide water.

In 1995, the State Water Resources Control Board ruled that Cal-Am did not have valid rights to 70% of the water it delivered to the area. Most of the water came from the Carmel River. In 2009, the state set a deadline at the start of 2017 to reduce withdrawals from the Carmel River. Stoldt said that two of the species that live in the river, the steelhead trout and the red-legged frog, are both listed as federal endangered species. The presence of both makes it difficult to build new dams on the river.

Stoldt said recycling the peninsula region’s wastewater may provide an additional 3,000 to 5,000 acre feet to the local area. An EIR on the program, called Pure Water Monterey, should be done in 2015, he said, and the program may be in operation by 2017.

Official attempts to get an extension on the 2017 deadline for reducing Carmel River water can be expected in 2015.  Any extensions would come from the State Water Resources Control Board.

“The hope is to point to the program being underway and the state providing some relief,” Stoldt said.

Water conservation efforts have also led to reductions in use in recent years as well, with residents saving over 1,000 acre feet of water a year, Stoldt said, and even more water conservation may be required of local residents.

She said there will be economic impacts if the region is left with water cutbacks and few new sources of water. “If there’s only enough water for residents, how does a hotel, restaurant or an aquarium stay in business?”

“Over the past few decades there is likely no local issue that has been more debated, politicized voted on, and finally, as frustrating,” wrote Monterey Mayor Chuck Della Sala, in a recent article on water. “…Desal has to be part of the mix.”

Proposition 1, the state water bond measure on the November ballot, may provide some financial assistance to Monterey County if it passes. An analysis of the $7.5 billion statewide measure by MPWCD says that it includes $725 million statewide for water recycling, desalination and potable reuse.

Agreement to agree: All six parties approve MOU to hash out groundwater replenishment plan

by Sara Rubin, Monterey County Weekly, 10/10/14

Six government boards, six approvals.  That’s remarkable consensus in the realm of local government—particularly when it comes to water.

After months of negotiations, representatives of various interests came to a memorandum of understanding concerning potential sources for expanding the recycled water supply out of the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency’s treatment plant in Marina.

The project, “Monterey Pure Water,” could conceivably provide 3,900-acre-feet-a-year of water to the parched Monterey Peninsula, meaning California American Water could build a smaller (and less costly) desalination plant.

The hang-up has been a battle over who gets how much of the recycled water—the stuff that we flush down the toilet or that runs down the drain. The existing supply of recycled water produced at the Marina plant provides seasonal irrigation for about 12,000 acres of North County farmland.

Representatives of each negotiating agency brought an MOU back to their respective boards, and all have approved the MOU within the past three weeks.

The Monterey County Water Resources Agency signed on Sept. 22, and the Pollution Control Agency followed on Sept. 29.

Then on Monday this week, Marina Coast Water District signed on, followed by the county Board of Supervisors and Salinas City Council Tuesday, then finally by the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District on Wednesday.

In final negotiations last month, Water Management District GM Dave Stoldt, the facilitator, offered up this wisdom to competing parties: “This never says it’s an agreement to agree, it’s an agreement to negotiate.”

Monterey County, agencies close in on groundwater deal

Board lauds cooperation among several agencies

By Jim Johnson, Monterey County Herald, 10/8/14

SALINAS — Praising “historic” cooperation among agencies as a harbinger of future water management efforts, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously signed off on a deal to provide water for the proposed Monterey Peninsula groundwater replenishment project.

The supervisors voted 4-0 to approve the five-party memorandum of understanding, which sets a six-month framework for negotiating an agreement on water sources for the recycled water proposal, expiring at the end of March. Supervisor Dave Potter called the agreement historic and suggested it could be the start of a “more global discussion” on water management for the entire region, adding that it could help build trust between agencies who typically haven’t worked successfully together.

The deal, between the Monterey County Water Resources Agency, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency, the city of Salinas and the Marina Coast Water District contemplates tapping Peninsula wastewater and storm runoff, and Salinas-area produce wash water and contaminated runoff to help meet regional water needs.

Some water would be steered to a project known as Pure Water Monterey. Once treated, that water would be pumped into and stored in a Seaside aquifer, joining with California American Water’s desalination plant as part of the Peninsula water supply project, which is designed to help replace state-mandated pumping reductions from the Carmel River.

The deal would also provide additional irrigation water for the Castroville Seawater Intrusion Project, an existing water reclamation project.

Salinas city official Gary Petersen noted the talks began with major disagreements between the Peninsula and Salinas Valley and the threat of arbitration, and nearly fell apart before finally reaching a conclusion. Petersen said the agreement was proof that “we can build bridges.”

On Tuesday, Monterey County Farm Bureau executive director Norm Groot and Grower-Shipper Association representative Abby Taylor-Silva urged the supervisors to approve the agreement, though they also noted much work needs to be done before a final deal is in place. They called for full public involvement in the process.

Work has already begun on setting up talks on the definitive agreement, according to Peninsula water district general manager Dave Stoldt, who noted the complexity of a final deal that must include several side deals between the parties governing everything from a delivery pipeline to a recycled water purchase agreement.

The preliminary agreement includes “off-ramps” allowing parties to back away should any deal-breaker arise, as would the final deal. They include the results of the project’s environmental study, a rate study, a third-party review and mandated tax assessment proceeding. The memorandum of understanding also indemnifies parties that opt out from any project costs.

The deal has already been approved by the county water agency, Pollution Control Agency and Marina Coast boards, and the Salinas City Council was expected to consider the agreement Tuesday night, with the Peninsula water district board set to consider the preliminary deal, and a resumption of spending on the project, during a special meeting Wednesday.

Supervisor Lou Calcagno recused himself from the board’s vote because he owns property that uses recycled water.