In 1994 CRSA was joined by The Residents Water Committee, Sierra Club, and California Department of Parks and Recreation in filing a complaint with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) that said Cal Am’s wells in the lower Carmel Valley were in fact pumping understory of the Carmel River and not groundwater as Cal Am argued. (It should be pointed out that the State of California has authority and regulates water in rivers but not groundwater.) At that time Cal Am was pumping 14,106 Acre Feet (AF) of water from the Carmel River when it only had a legal right to pump 3,376 AF; hence, the complaint argued that Cal Am was pumping 10,730 AF of water illegally.
After almost a year, the SWRCB ruled in our favor and issued Water Order 1995-10 (WO 95-10). This Order had 14 parts which, among other things, told Cal Am it could no longer pump more than 14,106 AF of water, to diligently implement a new water source in order to get down to its legal amount of water and that “Cal-Am shall be responsible for implementing all measures in the ‘Mitigation Program for the District’s Water Allocation Program Environmental Impact Report’ not implemented by the District after June 30, 1996.” In other words, if MPWMD no longer did any or all parts of the Five-year Mitigation Plan, Cal Am would have to do them.
While not part of the actual order, but in the reasoning and discussion of WO 95-10, the SWRCB talks about the MPWMD’s Mitigation Program and states that the program would “continue the Interim Relief Plan.”
Once again, legal action by CRSA helped steelhead on the Carmel River and this action, which resulted in WO 95-10, has been the driving force for mitigation and adequate water for fish since 1995.