After CRSA’s 1988 complaint to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) in regards to environmental damage to the Carmel River from over-pumping and because there was a need to let all regions within the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD) boundaries know how much water they could count on, MPWMD started the process of a Water Allocation Environmental Impact Report (Water Allocation EIR).
In April of 1990 MPWMD issued the Final Water Allocation EIR which analyzed 5 different proposed water withdrawals from the Carmel River ranging from 16,700 acre-feet (Option V) to 20,500 acre-feet (Option III). The report showed that without mitigation all five proposals would have “Significant Impacts on the Fisheries on the Carmel River.” With mitigation, Option IV (17,500 acre-feet) and Option V (16,700 acre-feet), the impacts to steelhead could be reduced to “Less Than Significant.”
Option I, the option being used at that time, was 18,400 acre-feet. This Option had 7 mitigation measures and still did not bring the impacts to “Less Than Significant. Those mitigation measures were the same ones used to bring the impacts of Options IV and Option V to “Less Than Significant.”
In July of 1990 MPWMD issued a separate Draft Fisheries Mitigation Plan Allocation EIR that was a supplement to the Water Allocation EIR. This was a report in which MPWMD staff modified the proposals in the Water Allocation EIR. The report explained the need for the parts of the future Five-year Mitigation Plan and expanded the concept of the future Five-year Mitigation Program. It is not clear how a separate fisheries mitigation plan fits legally into a public EIR especially as the Draft Fisheries Mitigation Plan Allocation EIR modified some of the agreed to provisions of the Final Water Allocation EIR.
The Final Water Allocation EIR did not mention which option was chosen. That was apparently done by the MPWMD Board of Directors vote on November 5, 1990 where the Board certified the Final Water Allocation EIR and approved the Five-year Mitigation Program.
This was the start of MPWMD’s mitigation program and incorporated the Interim Relief Plans as a part of the program. While the mitigation program was officially the “Five-year Mitigation Program,” at the end of the five-years the MPWMD Board voted to continue the program and has done so every year since.
By providing written comments and protests, CRSA participated significantly in both the Draft and the Final Water Allocation EIR and our input helped provide protection for steelhead.