With county water officials scrambling to preserve a long-held Salinas River water permit, county supervisors will be asked to commit millions of dollars on development of projects which could use the water.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors is set to consider a recommendation from the county Water Resources Agency board to allocate up to $1 million per year over a three-year period to develop potential projects as part of an effort to oppose the state water board's proposed revocation of the river water diversion permit.
The supervisors will be asked to approve formation of an ad hoc Regional Advisory Committee to come up with water projects that would need the river's water.
The board is scheduled to consider the request on its 10:30 a.m. agenda. The supervisors are slated to reconsider previously approved Fort Ord reuse guiding principles, as well as reports on Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget and 2013-14 state legislative session priorities.
The State Water Resources Control Board tentatively scheduled a public hearing on the proposed revocation for April 15-17 at the water board's headquarters in Sacramento. The state water board notified the agency last fall that it planned to proceed with the hearing, and staff will argue the county has failed to demonstrate progress on plans for using the river water.
The county, which has held the permit since 1957, originally planned to use its allocation for the Castroville and Eastside canal projects.
County water agency interim general manager David Chardavoyne said the supervisors' commitment to supporting the agency's strategy to oppose the proposed permit revocation will be crucial. Chardavoyne said members of the recommended committee, which would include Salinas Valley stakeholders but has to be finalized, has already conducted an organizational meeting.
He said the committee would remain in place even after the state water board's ultimate decision to help guide the development of the proposed water projects, provided the supervisors approve funding.
Salinas Valley Water Coalition spokeswoman Nancy Isakson said the agricultural organization could back the county water agency's efforts to keep the permit under certain conditions. Isakson said she wanted to know where the money for the agency's efforts to keep the permit would be coming from.
She said the agency should conduct hydrological studies to determine how much water is actually available from the river and ensure the water right would not interfere with water projects completed since the permit was issued, such as the Salinas Valley Water Project.
Isakson said she wants the agency to commit to ensuring the river water remains in the assessment zone known as Zone 2C, which includes much of the Salinas Valley along with areas of North County and Fort Ord.
She noted records indicated agency officials, including former general manager Curtis Weeks, sought an extension of the permit that included a change in the "general location of potential users" for the river water and identified the Peninsula and the Springfield Terrace area in North County as among them.
Chardavoyne said he would not impose limits on the advisory committee's proposals, though he noted the water coalition had been invited to participate on the committee. Isakson said the coalition would likely agree to participate, but wanted to ensure the committee consider not seeking an extension of the permit.
Jim Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 753-6753.