Marina Coast Water District (MCWD)

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A watershed-related topic examined by the ENVS 560/L Watershed Systems class at CSUMB.


The Marina Coast Water District (MCWD) is a special district that was established in 1960 to provide potable water and wastewater treatment services[1] to the entire city of Marina and the former Fort Ord (known as the Ord Community) (Figure 1)[2].

As of 2014, MCWD serves approximatley 30,000 residents through 8,000 connections in central Marina, Fort Ord, California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB), and portions of Seaside.[3]

More information on Municipal Water Service Boundaries in Monterey.

Alt text
Figure 1. MCWD Service Area and Well Location[2].

Office Locations

  • Administrative offices: 11 Reservation Road, Marina, CA
  • Engineering, Operations, and Maintenance offices: 2840 4th Avenue, Marina, CA[1]


According to the MCWD, About webpage, the MCWD has existed since 1958[1]. The history of its service and functioning is provided below:

  • 1958 - The Marina Community Service Corporation, a group of local citizens, proposed formation of a municipally owned water system. Their intention was to create boundaries that coincided with the already existing Marina Fire District.
  • 1960 - Two years later, formation of the Marina County Water District occurred through a vote of the then-unincorporated city of Marina, California.
  • 1966 - City of Marina voters authorized the sale of $950,000 in water bonds to acquire a privately owned water company for servicing the area.
  • 1970 - The city of Marina voters responded to increasing septic failures and community requests by constructing a sewage treatment plant and disposal system, which was financed by $1.3M in sewer bonds.
  • 1982-1989 - The District drilled three new deep wells into the 900 ft aquifer in 1982, 1985, and 1989[4]. This is the current source of water for the city of Marina.
  • 1994 - The Marina County Water District became the Marina Coast Water District (MCWD), replacing "county" with "coast" to avoid confusion of being a county agency, or that Marina was a county and not in Monterey County.
  • 1997 - MCWD began operating a desalination plant located on the end of Reservation Road; however, this plant is no longer operational due to beach well damage associated with coastal erosion[5].
  • 1997 - The MCWD contracted with the US Army, when it closed the former Fort Ord, to operate its water and wastewater systems. Within this agreement, the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) established a Water and Wastewater Oversight Committee (WWOC)[6].
  • 2001 - The US Army officially transferred these systems to the MCWD[7]. Since then, the MCWD has improved water distribution and storage efficiency with a variety of infrastructure projects.
  • 2015 - Board of Directors announced plans to construct a 2,7000 acre-feet per year desalination plant to provide water for future Ford Ord developments (Resolution 2015-06). [8]

Board of Directors and Committees

Board of Directors

A voter-elected five member board of directors (BOD) governs the MCWD for four year terms[1]. The BOD consists of Howard Gustafson (President), Peter Le (Vice President), Thomas P. Moore, William Y. Lee, and Jan Shriner[9]. The BOD Regular Board Meetings are held every first and third Monday of the month at the Marina City Council Chambers. Meetings begin with an open session at 6:00 pm and continue with a public, open meeting at 7:00 pm[1].

Standing Committees and Commissions

The MCWD has standing committees that serve various functions[1]. The current committees operating for the MCWD are the Water Conservation Commission, the Joint City District Committee, the Executive Committee, and the Community Outreach Committee.

The Water Conservation Commission

The Water Conservation Commission (WCC) consists of a BOD-appointed Director, a BOD-appointed alternate Director, a member of the Marina City Council, a representative from the US Army, a representative from CSUMB, and five BOD-appointed members of the public from within the MCWD service area, for terms of two years[10]. The WCC's mission is to provide input to the BOD on conservation, technological improvements, and policies relating to the MCWD's water resources.

The Joint City District Committee

The Joint City District Committee (JCDC) is a collaboration between the MCWD and the city of Marina. Its mission is to facilitate interaction between the city of Marina Councilmembers and the MCWD BOD relating to projects within the boundaries of the city of Marina and the MCWD[11].

The Executive Committee

The Executive Committee (EC) consists of the Board President and Vice President[12]. Meetings of this committee occur on an as-needed basis, and are a way to discuss the general nature of information flow between the BOD and the general manager.

The Community Outreach Committee

The Community Outreach Committee (COC) meets on an as-needed basis, and its role is to expand the current communication between the community and the MCWD[12].


The MCWD is completely funded by fees from ratepayers[13]. Revenue generated from water, wastewater, and other associated fee collection allows operation of the District. The MCWD does not receive any tax revenues or other forms of public financing. Bonds are sometimes issued for special purposes, which are repaid by ratepayers at a fixed interest rate.

Water Sources

City of Marina

The water delivered to the city of Marina service area is supplied from three groundwater wells pumping from the 900 ft aquifer of the Salinas Valley Groundwater Basin, which consists of two geologic formations: the Paso Robles and the Purisma Formations (Figure 1)[1][4]. The current wells, MCWD-10, MCWD-11, and MCWD-12, and were installed in the 1980s to address seawater intrusion problems associated with prior pumping from the 180 ft and 400 ft aquifers. The disinfection of water from the current wells occurs at each well site to remove hydrogen sulfide, which can cause odor problems[14].

Ord Community

The water being delivered to the Ord Community service area is supplied from three wells (MCWD-29, MCWD-30, and MCWD-31), constructed in 1985 by the US Army, located near the intersection of Reservation and Blanco roads, as well as two other wells (MCWD-34 and MCWD-Watkins Gate) (Figure 1)[4][14]. Collectively, these wells are pumping from all three aquifers: the 180 ft, the 400 ft, and the 900 ft aquifers. Disinfection of the water pumped from these wells occurs at the Ord Community chlorination treatment plant.

Water and Sewer Costs to the Consumer

Consumer costs differ depending on the service area within which the ratepayer lives[1]. The areas serviced by the MCWD and their associated water and sewer costs are described below. It should be noted that these rates are for residential units, not commercial units, and that taxes and surcharges are not included in the values presented.

Central Marina

The monthly base fee in the City of Marina is $20.46 for a 5/8 or 3/4 in. water meter, and increases with a larger meter size[15]. Additionally, rate payers are required to pay for each unit of water consumed (1 unit = 748 gal). The rates differ depending on how many units are consumed at each residence. Ratepayers are charged $2.55 per unit for the first eight units, $2.92 per unit for the next eight units (nine through 16), and $5.15 per unit for consumption over sixteen units. The wastewater collection rate is a flat rate and is determined by dividing the annual system budget by the equivalent number of residential units in the service area. For the city of Marina, this value is $11.11[15].

Ord Community

The monthly base fee in the Ord Community is $31.48 for a 5/8 or 3/4 in. water meter, and increases with a larger meter size[16]. Additionally, rate payers are required to pay for each unit of water consumed (1 unit = 748 gal). The rates differ depending on how many units are consumed at each residence. Ratepayers are charged $2.60 per unit for the first eight units, $3.98 per unit for the next eight units (nine through 16), and $5.37 per unit for consumption over sixteen units. Any un-metered residential units will be required to pay a flat rate of $112.65 per month. The wastewater collection rate is a flat rate and is determined by dividing the annual system budget by the equivalent number of residential units in the service area. For the Ord Community, this value is $27.55[16].

Other Water Districts in the Region

The California American Water Company (CalAm) also delivers water and wastewater services, and are currently delivering their services to the Monterey District[17][18]. Within the Monterey District, the Monterey Main and Small Systems base meter fee is $10.51 and $15.76 per month per meter, for a 5/8 in and 3/4 in. meter, respectively. Additionally, rate payers are required to pay for each 'block' of water consumed (1 block = 10 ft3 = 74.8 gal). The rates for Block 1, Block 2, Block 3, Block 4, and Block 5 (which is anything over 40 ft3) are $0.4392, $0.6589, $1.7571, $3.5140, and $4.3926, respectively.

Current Water Conservation Efforts

The MCWD is involved with a variety of programs that aim to conserve water within the District[1]. Those programs include:

  • Recycled Water: The MWCD will receive recycled water from the RTP, which is managed by the MRWPCA. Certain areas, including Gloria Jean Tate Park and the Comfort Inn in Marina, have already been piped to receive recycled water. As the infrastructure to move this water comes online, further recycled water piping will be constructed in the area.
  • Rebates: The MWCD provides rebates after purchase and installation of energy efficient clothing washers that are Energy Star rated. Rebates are also provided for installation of high efficiency toilets and water-free urinals (high efficiency toilets have flush capacities of 1.28 gal or less). Another rebate that the MCWD provides is for hot water system retrofits that install a hot water recirculation element.
  • Construction Requirements: According to Ordinance Number 40, the MWCD requires that new construction incorporates zero-water urinals, high efficiency toilets, high efficiency washers, water efficient landscaping, and evapo-transpiration-based irrigation controls. The ordinance also outlines requirements for retrofits, both public and commercial. Residential retrofits must meet 1.6 gal maximum flush capacity for toilets, and maximum flow capacity of 2.5 gal per min for new showerheads. Commercial retrofits must meet zero water use for urinals, high efficiency clothing washers, and adherance to the same toilet and showerhead requirements as the residential retrofits.
  • In-School Education Program: This program aims to conduct science based classroom activities that teach water science and conservation to kindergarten through grade 5. The MWCD has been involved with this program for over twenty years, and chooses activities to meet the science standards established by the State of California and taught by an experienced Water Science Instructor.
  • Tips and Useful Conservation Information: The MCWD provides a conservation tips webpage, as well as a webpage with useful water conservation resources[1].

Desalination Projects

  • MCWD operated a desalination facility in Marina from 1997 to 1998, which was capable of producing 0.3 MGD of potable water. A study conducted by the California Department of Public Health concluded that the facility's intake was from groundwater rather than seawater. The facility is not operational.[19]
  • MCWD was a partner in the Regional Water Project, along with the Monterey County Water Resources Agency and the California American Water Company (CalAm), which was abandoned in January 2012 due to criminal allegations. MCWD claims to have spent $18 millions on the now-defunct Regional Water Project's desalination facility, which it will not be able to recoup from partners and will have to be absorbed by ratepayers [20].
  • MCWD has proposed a new desalination facility located near Armstrong Ranch in north Marina, which would produce 2.4 million gallons per day and include a 150 acre solar panel installation [21].

Recent Legal Actions

MCWD has been involved in a number of legal actions stemming from the failed Regional Water Project and the following Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project[22], some of which are still pending:

  • The Ag Land Trust sued MCWD in March 2010 for legal fees associated with a challenge to the Regional Water Project's EIR. MCWD was ordered to pay the Ag Land Trust $1.3 million. MCWD appealed. [23]
  • MCWD sued CalAm and Monterey County in 2012 over the $18 million it lost on the Regional Water Project [24].
  • Monterey County countersued MCWD two weeks later, claiming that the failure of the Regional Water Project was the District's fault. [25]
  • CalAm countersued MCWD, claiming it had a right to terminate agreements after conflict of interest concerns surfaced [26].
  • MCWD denied the building permit for the Monterey Peninsula Water Supply Project's desalination facility test wells to CalAm. CalAm appealed to the Marina City Council, who upheld MCWD's decision[24]. CalAm appealed again to the California Coastal Commission and won approval to begin building in November 2014.[22]
  • MCWD sued California State Lands Commission on January 15, 2015, in an attempt to stop CalAm from drilling test wells. [22]
  • MCWD and The Ag Land Trust sued the Coastal Commission and CalAm in January 2015 [22].
  • MCWD requested temporary restraining order against CalAm to stop drilling on January 21, 2015, which was denied in Santa Cruz County Court [22].


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 MCWD, Home Page
  2. 2.0 2.1 MCWD, 2010 UWMP, Schaff & Wheeler
  3. The Monterey Penninsula Water Management District and the Marina Coast Water District
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 MCWD, 2005 UWMP, Byron Buck and Associates
  5. NOAA, Desalination Feasibility Study for the Monterey Bay Region: Final Report
  6. FORA, Annual Report for FY 2012-2013
  7. MOU: Department of the Army, MRWPCA, FORA, and MCWD
  8. Marina Coast Water District Reolution 2015-06: Approval for Regional Desalination Project
  9. MCWD, BOD Board Meeting - March 16, 2015
  10. MCWD, Excerpt from Procedures Manual
  11. MCWD, Joint City District Committe, Procedures and Scope
  12. 12.0 12.1 MCWD, BOD Procedures, Final
  13. MCWD Customer Service, pers. comm., 2 April 2015
  14. 14.0 14.1 MCWD, 2013 Consumer Confidence Report
  15. 15.0 15.1 MCWD, Marina Rates
  16. 16.0 16.1 MCWD, Ord Community Rates
  17. CalAm, Home Page
  18. CalAm, Rate Schedule
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 22.4
  24. 24.0 24.1



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