Proposed pipeline to link San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties
May 2, 2013
Lake Nacimiento water management officials want to construct a pipeline to divert extra water to Monterey County. [MontereyCountyWeekly]
Nacimiento Lake fills up three times faster than Lake San Antonio, located a few miles to its north in Monterey County. During the rainy season, extra Nacimiento water is released into the Salinas River for flood control.
Nacimiento Regional Water Management Advisory Committee (NRWMAC), which represents lake-area homeowners and recreational users, is looking to construct an 11,000-to-14,000-foot pipeline that would divert excess water to Lake San Antonio.
Proponents of the pipeline say it would keep Nacimiento Lake levels higher in the summer, reduce flood risk along the Salinas River, help prevent seawater intrusion and boost Salinas Valley’s water supply in the dry season.
“They were releasing a bunch of rainwater that was just going to the ocean. Well, that’s a waste,” said NRWMAC President Mark Nielsen to the Monterey County Weekly. “We needed a big tank to store the extra water in. And the big tank is Lake San Antonio.”
In order to prevent flooding, Nacimiento released an average of 53,000 acre-feet per year from 1991 through 2005, according to a NRWMAC report.
The inter-lake pipeline was included in a 1991 Monterey County Water Resources Agency (MCWRA) list of 34 potential projects to deal with Salinas Valley seawater intrusion. The state has ordered one district in Monterey County to cut back 70 percent of Carmel River pumping by the end of 2016.
“This is a really good project, and it has multiple benefits for multiple stakeholders,” MCWRA Assistant General Manager Robert Johnson told the Monterey County Weekly.
In the meantime, Nacimiento’s advisory committee needs funding to further analyze the pipeline project that is slated to cost between $40 million and $90 million.
“If the Peninsula could pay for it and they need the water,” Nielsen told the Monterey County Weekly, “Maybe there’s a win for everybody.”