This is a surface water permit for the Salinas River basin originally issued by State of California in 1957, currently held by Monterey County Water Resources Agency (MCWRA).
The permit authorized the diversion of up to 168,538 acre-feet of water per year from the Salinas River, for projects primarily intended to halt salt water intrusion into the groundwater basin, as well as flood control. Over the years, the permit required various projects to be built by specific dates, and through modifications and extensions of the permit over the decades, ultimately none of the proposed projects listed in the permit were ever built.
In 2010 the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) proposed a revocation of the permit based on non-use of the water allocated under the permit ... in other words, since no projects were ever built, the water right should be nullified. In November 2012, MCWRA was notified of a revocation hearing procedure and a hearing date of August 13, 2013. To avoid the formal hearing, MCWRA and SWRCB entered into a settlement action that resulted in an agreement entered into on July 1, 2013.
Through the settlement agreement, the permit was modified with the following constraints:
- The maximum amount of water diverted was reduced to 135,000 acre-feet per year
- Specific bypass flows are required before water can be diverted; these are calculated by subtracting released by MCWRA for the reservoirs from total flows at the Soledade gaging station, based on three-day running averages (meaning that diversions can only take place during periods of heavy river flows, such as storm events, limiting diversions to three or four months of each year)
- Points of diversion remain as before (south of Soledad near the confluence of the Arroyo Seco and south of Salinas in the constrained reach of the river)
- Place of use was unchanged
- A timeline of milestones was laid out for specific performance measures towards building a project, beginning with a notice of preparation for a identified project by July 1, 2014 and completion of the project build by July 1, 2026
In late 2013, MCWRA formed the Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) to first determine if the permit should be defended, and next, to identify potential project(s) that could be built under the permit, with the goal of recommending a specific project or suite of projects to the MCWRA Board of Directors. The RAC adopted a purpose statement that determined the permit was worth defending and any projects identified should be under the current (as modified) construct of the permit (meaning no modifications other than for water storage). Through a series of meetings, a final project outline was agreed upon in April 2014. Elements of this proposed project were made public at meetings in May 2014.
MCFB supported only those projects that fit under the provisions of the modified permit. Several projects were considered that do not fall into this category and should be considered as possible future projects under other water permits held by MCWRA, such as the reservoir permits.
MCWRA has requested a four year extension on specific deadlines outlined in the settlment of this water right; with the Inter-lake Tunnel Project taking a higher priority during 2015 and 2016, there were no resources available to develop the project description fully nor fund the studies for the environmental impact report. MCWRA currently awaits a reply from SWRCB on the extension of these dates.
Water diverted under Permit #11043 is for use within the Salinas Valley watershed and should not be exported out of the region for other purposes.