Water Supply in the Monterey Peninsula Region

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A Environmental Topics summary by the ENVS 560/L Watershed Systems class at CSUMB.


Since the 1960s, California American Water Company (CalAm) has been working on different ideas on how to maintain a steady water supply for the Monterey Peninsula. For example, in 1970, they proposed two more dams on the Carmel River, but didn’t build either of them. Five years later, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) ordered a moratorium on new water hookups, and enacted water rationing due to a drought. The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD) was formed in 1978, with the purpose of working with Cal-Am to protect and increase water supply – they are still serving that goal today. As early as 1987, Cal Am was accused of illegal summer pumping on the Carmel River, in a complaint submitted by the Carmel River Steelhead Association. Cal-Am denied the complaint. Eight years after this, the State Water Resource Control Board (SWRCB) enacted Order 95-10 in 1995, which required Cal-Am to reduce Carmel River pumping.

At this time, water tables in Monterey County had been on the decline, especially in 1995 when Cal-Am transferred significant water supply from the Carmel River to the Seaside Groundwater Basin.[1] The increase in water drawn from the Seaside Basin has led to an overdraft of water and potential risk of seawater intrusion. [2] In 2006, the Seaside Basin was adjudicated by the California Superior Court to decrease the amount of water drawn from the Seaside Basin within three years, unless the appointed Watermaster board could secure more water sources. [1] To address these concerns Cal-Am and the MPWMD jointly operate the Seaside Basin Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) project that injects excess flow from the Carmel River into the Seaside Basin during periods of high flow. [2]

In 2009, the SWRCB revisited Order 95-10, extending the deadline for Cal-Am to 2016.[3] Under Order 95-10, Cal-Am had to reduce the amount of water is draws from the Carmel River by 70% from 2009 to 2016. [4] This goal was not met, and the current deadline is December 31, 2021. [5] The Pure Water Monterey Expansion Project Project is part of a portfolio of projects to address the decrease in water available from the Carmel River.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Cole, Jerry. The benefits of recycled water recharge to an over-drafted coastal groundwater basin
  2. 2.0 2.1 MPWMD Seaside Groundwater Basin ASR MPWMD Seaside Groundwater Basin ASR Accessed April 5, 2020.
  3. SWRCB Order 95-10 SWRCB WR 95-10 Published July 5, 1995. Accessed April 5, 2020.
  4. MPWMD. MPWMD FAQ on CDO Feb. 2011 Updated February 2, 2011. Accessed April 5, 2020.
  5. Coury, Nic. A look back and forward regarding the Monterey Peninsula's Water Supply Published November 28, 2019. Accessed April 5, 2020.


This page may contain student work completed as part of assigned coursework. It may not be accurate. It does not necessary reflect the opinion or policy of CSUMB, its staff, or students.