The water situation on the Monterey Peninsula (Carmel, Carmel Valley, Pacific Grove, Monterey, Pebble Beach) is about as clear as mud– so stay with me for a quick synopsis and an update.
- Cal-Am, the local water company, is violating a number of orders/laws/regulations by “over pumping” the Carmel River. Most of the restrictions have to do with protecting the Steel Head breading that occurs in the river.
- This over pumping/water shortage is the basis for the existence of the Monterey County Water Management District.
- This agency is a “super” agency that has authority above the authority of cities or the county when it comes to water usage.
- For example, you can receive a permit from a city to install a third bathroom which is allowed under the zoning rules of a given property but NOT be allowed to add the bathroom because you have insufficient water credits (or fixture units) and the Water District won’t stamp the permit.
- To get more of an explanation of how the credit process works, visit www.malonehodges.com/water for an explanation.
So, in November a state wide agency known as the California State Water Resources Control Board issued a Cease and Desist Order that put extreme rationing on the table and ordered Cal Am to not install any new water meters or enlarge water meters for remodel projects.
This was clearly a catastrophe for anyone on the verge of getting a permit to build a home.
Immediately after the issuance of the order a Monterey County Judge issued a stay.
The State Resources board moved to transfer the case to a judge in another county in hopes of getting more sympathy. They succeeded. A Santa Clara county judge this week lifted the stay.
Effectively immediately Cal-Am is under orders to not install new meters. The rationing hasn’t kicked in because our water consumption so far this year is below the limits that trigger rationing.
If you have ever heard of “The Onion” a satirical online newspaper, this story could appear on their pages. Our area uses water well below the national average and well below the average water usage in California. We are extremely sensitive to water usage. There are a number of possible solutions to the water problem, including desalination plants and water reclamation projects. All of which require state approval….from the same state that is inflicting the cease and desist order but has dragged its feet on approving any of the solutions.
If you are considering buying a home in Carmel, Pebble Beach, Carmel Valley or the other peninsula communities and think you might want to add or modify your water fixtures please make sure you understand the water credit system during your contingency period. Request, and understand, what the water fixture report says about your property.
By the way, Pebble Beach has a bit of a unique side story. The Pebble Beach Company has been able to sell water credits from its “bank” for years meaning you could add that third bath, if your home was in Pebble Beach and you could afford to buy the credits. The original intent of the Water Resources Board was to include Pebble Beach but it was “carved out” so those purchased water credits are still valid (and valuable) for the time being at least.