ABSTRACT: In a Guest Commentary entitled "Groundwater agreement illegal," The Monterey County Herald (01/16/16), Bill Hood, former executive director of the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments, states “…Jim Johnson reported on a “deal” reached between Cal Am, the Castroville Community Services District, the Salinas Valley Water Coalition, the Monterey County Farm Bureau, and Land Watch, whereby the utility will transfer a guaranteed amount of desalinated water whose intake source admittedly contains some amount of water extracted from an existing Salinas Valley groundwater aquifer.” “As a new appropriator, by law, Cal Am (nor the CCSD) cannot legally go forward with what is proposed.” Consider these facts:• A 1975 California Supreme Court decision stated that, once a groundwater basin reaches a condition of overdraft, no new “appropriative” uses may be lawfully made;
• An August 2015 Bulletin issued by the California Department of Water Resources identifies a northern segment of the Salinas Valley groundwater basin, from Moss Landing to south of Salinas, as critically overdrafted;
• A report issued a year earlier by the California Water Foundation concludes that “groundwater basins in the Monterey and Salinas Valley are in a state of long-term overdraft”;
• A person or entity extracting groundwater and who is not an “overlyer” (meaning does not own the land directly overlying the basin at the point of extraction) is considered an “appropriator”; and
• Cal Am, who is neither the owner of the land overlying that part of the Salinas Valley groundwater basin where it will be extracting source water for its desal plant nor has ownership of that water, thus becomes a “new appropriator”; and
• The Castroville Community Services District, as a public agency, also owns no land or rights to the water, and upon delivery of the water would also be classified as a new appropriator.
“Failure to do due diligence, while perhaps understandable, is still no excuse. It is in no one’s short- or long-term interests to actually implement an illegal agreement.”
HISTORY OF ULARA (UPPER LOS ANGELES RIVER AREA WATERMASTER) ADJUDICATION
THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES, Plaintiff, vs. CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, et al., Defendants.
January 26, 1979
City of Los Angeles v. City of San Fernando , 14 Cal.3d 199
[L.A. No. 30119. Supreme Court of California. May 12, 1975.]
CITY OF LOS ANGELES, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. CITY OF SAN FERNANDO et al., Defendants and Respondents
In Bank. (Opinion by Wright, C. J., expressing the unanimous view of the court.)
Critically Overdrafted Basins