Castroville Seawater Intrusion Project

Reclaimed Water Used for Irrigation

Monterey County Water Recycling Projects, a combination of the Castroville Seawater Intrusion Project and the Salinas Valley Reclamation Project, began construction in 1995 and started delivering recycled water to fields near Castroville in 1998. By using recycled water pumped from the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency, farmers found they can safely irrigate their crops and reduce pumping of seawater-tainted groundwater. The unprecedented success of the Castroville Seawater Intrusion Project has led to the next step in fighting seawater intrusion – the Salinas Valley Water Project. Through the SVWP’s installation of a rubber dam on the Salinas River near Marina (Salinas River Diversion Facility), seasonally stored water can be pumped into the Castroville Seawater Intrusion Project’s pipelines for delivery as irrigation water, thus reducing the need to pump groundwater.

Grower Attitudes Towards Water Management Strategies While Mitigating Seawater Intrusion: A Case Study Of The Castroville Seawater Intrusion Project

The Salinas River Valley Watershed has endured the effects of seawater intrusion for decades caused by overpumping groundwater from the Salinas River Groundwater Basin. The Castroville Seawater Intrusion Project began delivering recycled water in 1998 with other water sources due to wells becoming too saline. One-on-one, in-person interviews with eighteen growers, who own or lease farmland within the Project’s service area, were conducted during a severe, statewide drought. Interview questions explored grower attitudes and concerns regarding their water supply, and the impact of management strategies on the mitigation of seawater intrusion. Two research questions were posed, exploring factors that influence grower acceptance of alternative water supplies, and whether environmental impacts affect their attitudes. Four prominent factors were found that influence grower acceptance of alternative water supplies: perceived need for water supply, changes to cost and/or water quality, information/education, and level of trust. The study also revealed three motivations of growers for choosing water supplies that do not increase seawater intrusion or contribute to adverse environmental impacts: protecting harvest/land, managing associated cost of operations, and avoiding increased regulations and/or oversight. Growers with fewer numbers of farms and smaller acreage of farmland tended to have a greater perceived need to acquire sustainable water supplies, while being more reluctant to implement water sources of lesser quality.

Read Jason Reed’s complete Masters Thesis (2017), a study on CSIP, here.