County Supes Agree to Battle State to Keep Salinas River Water Rights
February 6, 2013
They're not sure where the money will come from, but the County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 Tuesday to deliver up to $1 million a year for three years to the county Water Resources Agency to make use of Salinas River water.
In approving the resolution, the supervisors agreed to "vigorously contest" the State Water Resources Control Board's intended revocation of rights to nearly 169,000 acre-feet of water per year.
"It’s hard for me to believe where this water belongs to someone else other than the Salinas Valley," County Supervisor Lou Calcagno says. "This water’s been here since the beginning of time for the Salinas Valley."
That water allocation was initially granted in 1957 and has been extended five times since. Under the state's use-it-or-lose-it policy, water officials can revoke the unused volume.
Hence the budget for additional projects (besides recycled water that travels through the "purple line" to North County farms for irrigation, the Nacimiento and San Antonio reservoirs, and seasonal Rubber Dam at the Salinas River Diversion Project in North Marina).
"The strategy would be to utilize it through another suite of projects over a number of years to take care of water issues in the Valley," says agency Assistant General Manager Rob Johnson. "I think that we can provide a compelling argument that this allocation should be kept by the Water Resources Agency."
Calcagno says that whatever river water goes unused for agricultural or municipal use today contributes to higher winter flows that improve steelhead habitat, so shouldn't be discounted as legitimate uses.