Integration of North Monterey County Drought Contingency Plan and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Salinas/Carmel Rivers Basins Studies

Monterey Peninsula Water Management District
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation


The combination of these regional water management studies has opened the door to a remarkable opportunity. Working in concert, the development and sharing of comprehensive technical information between these two studies will provide the greatest potential for stakeholders to make the best, most informed decisions around critical water supply issues.

Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD) office is located in the City of Monterey in Monterey County, California. The MPWMD is the lead agency and fiscal agent for the North Monterey County Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) and convener of the Plan Task Force (Task Force). The Task Force includes MPWMD, Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency (MRWPCA), Monterey County Water Resources Agency (MCWRA), and Monterey County Office of Emergency Services, among others.

The DCP is being conducted in parallel and in coordination with the Salinas and Carmel Rivers Basin Study (Basin Study). The DCP is a 24 month look at how to predict the different stages or levels of severity of drought; to address near-term vulnerabilities; to identify mitigation actions and activities that will build long-term resiliency to drought and reduce the need for response actions; identify drought response actions and activities that can be implemented quickly during a drought and, develop an operational and administrative framework to identify who is responsible for undertaking the actions necessary to implement each element of the Plan. The Basin Study is a longer-term study process that will develop new modeling and information to be used for the formulation and evaluation of currently identified and potential new mitigation measures.

The Basin Study and the DCP will access data created under the locally sponsored and currently underway, Salinas River Groundwater Basin Investigation. The combination of the technical analysis of the Salinas River Groundwater Basin Investigation feeding both the near-term drought response actions and organization aspects of the DCP and the long-term planning efforts of the Basin Study provides for synergy and consistency between the studies while meeting the needs of the stakeholders in a timely manner.

Drought Contingency Plan and Basin Study Coordination Underway

Federal and local agency stakeholders have been brought together, coordination of efforts is proceeding, and progress is being made on finalizing the scope and costs of these two studies. Among other immediate tasks, stakeholders are appraising the level of effort and complexity of managing multiple surface and groundwater models with climate change analysis, each with intricate layers of questions and issues included in the extensive scope of these investigations.

The common goal is to meet the needs of reliable, affordable water, and address the impacts of climate change. To do this, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is investing in a comprehensive approach to developing climate resiliency: the WaterSMART Basin Studies (Basin Studies) and the Water SMART Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) grants.

These programs are providing for the level of local/Federal collaboration that is critical in understanding data, making informed decisions and, developing and implementing effective water supply adaption strategies.

The Basins Studies will develop leading-edge technical information regarding water supply and demand, to support and provide comprehensive data to local water managers making decisions on how to adapt to impacts associated with competing demands, climate change, and drought.

The DCP is part of the Drought Response Program that seeks to prepare for and address drought in advance of a crisis. Water managers will have the tools to develop and/or update drought plans – the Drought Contingency Plan Process; implement projects that build long-term drought resiliency – Drought Resiliency Projects, and; develop and prepare to implement emergency response actions.