SAVE THE DRAGON

GoFundMe Campaign

LITIGATION UPDATE JANUARY 2020

NRWMAC TAKES ON MONTEREY COUNTY
OVER MISMANAGEMENT OF LAKE NACIMIENTO RESERVOIR

It has been one year since the Nacimiento Regional Water Management Advisory Committee (“NRWMAC”) filed its lawsuit against the County of Monterey, and other agencies in that county, each of which has some responsibility for managing Lake Nacimiento. Or rather, mismanaging it.1 The lawsuit alleges that the various agencies named as defendants (for the sake of brevity, all are referred to herein as “Monterey County”) have, among other things, failed their obligations to operate the lake in such manner as to provide sufficient water levels for recreation. When the level becomes too low, docks and launch ramps become unusable and navigational hazards emerge from under water. This happens entirely too often in the peak summer months, causing harm, financial and otherwise, to the community of residents, businesses and lake enthusiasts who depend on the lake for its recreational use. These are NRWMAC’s constituents, approximately 6500 in number, on behalf of whom the lawsuit was filed.

Since the dam was built and the lake was formed in the 1950’s, there have been several interests competing with each other over how the water should be used, and to what extent. The interests have included those of farmers in the Salinas Valley, who have always gotten the lion’s share of the water for irrigating their crops. Other demands on the water include the flow requirements of the Salinas River Diversion Facility (in effect, a reservoir), the mitigation of saltwater intrusion, the recharge of groundwater, and the federal environmental requirements set in place to support a fish habitat. However, NRWMAC’s 6500 constituents also have rights to the use of this water, and for over 25 years NRWMAC has fought, and continues to fight, to ensure that these rights are recognized and honored.2

In the current litigation, NRWMAC has been involved in a lengthy and continuing negotiation process with Monterey County over what the lake level should be. (To allow for settlement discussions to proceed while keeping litigation costs to a minimum, the parties agreed to stay the court action.) Although the specific details of the talks are shielded by a confidentiality agreement, in general terms they concern the level at which the lake should be maintained from April through Labor Day each year. NRWMAC asserts that the water in the lake must be maintained during these months at 750 feet above mean sea level (msl), with adjustments made for drought years. At 750 feet msl, the capacity of the lake equates to approximately 40%. At this level, launch ramps are fully usable, as are docks and other facilities, and most hazards to navigation remain submerged. The lake is safe and enjoyable.

NRWMAC has come a long way in its litigation this past year. It has made great progress towards resolving critical issues, thanks to its team of attorneys, water rights experts and negotiators. NRWMAC is confident it has a path to success in order to make Monterey County change its lake operations procedure to support recreation and keep the lake at a mutually acceptable level. Without NRWMAC’s intervention, via the current litigation. Monterey County would continue to ignore the recreational aspects of the lake. Some local realtors have opined that if Monterey County’s actions aren’t curtailed or changed, property values around the lake may decline as much as 25% in the next few years.

However, NRWMAC cannot stop Monterey County without major financial support to sustain its litigation. NRWMAC needs the help of landowners, businesses and other interested parties around the lake if it’s going to succeed. To fund the lawsuit, NRWMAC created a GoFundMe campaign, with NRWMAC board members donating $15K in seed money. Although the campaign has raised over $150,000 to date, much more is needed. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of NRWMAC’s constituents have supported the effort financially.

NRWMAC has asked various people why they haven’t donated. One recurring answer is based on a mistaken belief that Monterey County and the agricultural interests are too powerful to fight. This is not true: NRWMAC has fought them before, and is fighting them now, and can and must prevail. Other responses demonstrate that many people are simply unaware of NRWMAC, do not know what NRWMAC does, or do not know about the GoFundMe page.

That is why this update is coming to you. The reality is that the lawsuit has been filed on your behalf, as well as on behalf of your friends and neighbors. NRWMAC has a strong position and can resolve this lawsuit against Monterey County in your favor, but it needs your support to keep up the fight. Without help, NRWMAC’s constituents may lose their representation. Property owners and lake enthusiasts could be left to fend for themselves against Monterey County, which will almost certainly continue to use the water in Lake Nacimiento as it sees fit.

Please donate today, using the GoFundMe link below, or if you prefer you can privately donate using the nrwmac.org link, or mail a check to NRWMAC at PO Box 398, Paso Robles, CA 93447.

GoFundMe:

www.gofundme.com/lake-nacimiento-save-the-dragon

Private donations:

www.nrwmac.org/save-the-dragon/donate-today

1The lawsuit can be viewed in its entirety here: www.nrwmac.org/knowledge-base

2A NRWMAC representative attends all the Monterey County Reservoir Operations Committee meetings (“RESOPS”) to ensure that its constituents’ voices are heard. (NRWMAC has a seat on the RESOPS board as a result of a prior lawsuit against Monterey County.) Members of the NRWMAC Board of Directors conduct outreach meetings and have participated in media interviews in order to apprise the public of developments concerning the lake. And it has filed lawsuits and complaints with state regulatory agencies to protect the lake and its constituents.]

 

Thank you for your continued support.

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– Links to more documents and the NRWMAC Legal Actions can be found here : NRWMAC Knowledge Base

NRWMAC Go Fund Me LInk

Lake Nacimiento, known as “The Dragon” because of its distinctive shape, is in extreme peril and needs your help. Millions of gallons of water are being taken out of the lake each day by Monterey County and sent north, primarily for the benefit of its farmers in the Salinas Valley, but also to support a fish habitat and to sell on the open market for profit. This isn’t simply “Water Over The Dam,” it is the moral equivalent of draining the life’s blood of The Dragon. Left unchecked, this massive release of water will devastate the local economy in San Luis Obispo County, where the lake is actually located, by curtailing recreation, depressing property values and reducing business and tax revenues. Although the farmers in the Salinas Valley are entitled to a fair share of the water, they are not entitled to ALL of it. There is no way of even knowing just how much water the farmers are getting, since much of it goes underground where it cannot be measured. It is also impossible to determine how much water, if any, is being wasted since that also defies measurement. What is clear is that ever since the time it completed a “divisionary facility” in Salinas, Monterey County has steadily increased the water it releases over the dam on a daily basis.

See: http://www.co.monterey.ca.us/home/showdocument?id=22189.

Nacimiento Reservoir was originally designed and built by Monterey County for irrigation, flood control, groundwater recharge, and recreation. It was completed in 1957. Although the lake formed by the reservoir is entirely inside the geographical boundaries of San Luis Obispo County, the water is controlled by Monterey County under an operating license issued by the State of California. Over time, Monterey County has demonstrated that it does not care about the recreational aspect of its management of the lake, despite that component being of equal value to the others. Monterey County’s current attitude towards recreation at Lake Nacimiento borders on contempt.

The Nacimiento Regional Water Management Advisory Committee (“NRWMAC”) was formed in the late1980’s to represent Lake Nacimiento property owners, visitors and enthusiasts in dealing with Monterey County’s management of this precious resource. During its tenure, NRWMAC has fought to maintain a consistent and appropriate water level of 748 feet above mean sea level (msl). At this level, during most years, there is enough water to satisfy the needs of the farmers, meet the California Department of Fish and Wildlife requirements for the fish habitat and concurrently sustain recreation throughout the peak summer months – at least through Labor Day of each year. For the most part, NRWMAC has been successful in its attempt to maintain a mutually acceptable lake level. Lately, however, Monterey County has been promulgating the notion that a lake level of 730 feet msl will sustain recreation. This is absolutely not true. At that level, launch ramps and docks along the lake become unusable, and previously submerged rocks, tree stumps and islands start surfacing, posing hazards to boating.

NRWMAC has tried to negotiate a reasonable compromise with Monterey County over the lake level. Monterey County, however, will not negotiate. NRWMAC drafted and circulated a petition demanding a reduction to the massive and unreasonable daily water releases. This petition garnered over 6,000 signatures, and was presented to Monterey County in May of this year. Monterey County dismissed the petition, labeling it “factually inaccurate,” although it failed to explain how it was inaccurate. NRWMAC Directors have been on radio and television, and in print media, appealing for restraint over the water releases, but these effort have had no effect: Monterey County continues to drain the lake at its sole and unbridled discretion. Finally, as a last resort, and responding to the entreaties of its constituents, NRWMAC has been forced to retain a law firm experienced in water rights, and a team of hydrologists, to seek a legal remedy to halt the excessive outflow of water.

NRWMAC has exhausted nearly its entire operating budget by subsidizing the legal fees to date and now it needs your help. NRWMAC has started a GoFundMe campaign to replenish the funds necessary to sustain its legal challenge. It is estimated that a minimum of $100,000.00 is required to continue forward and resolve this issue. Please contribute whatever you can to help NRWMAC Save the Dragon, and please share this GoFundMe link and web site to everyone on your mailing list.

https://www.gofundme.com/lake-nacimiento-save-the-dragon

Discreet donation is available by checking the “Hide name and comment..” check box on the GoFundMe form, or use the donate buttons on the NRWMAC.Donate page located here www.nrwmac.org/donate .

NRWMAC is a non-profit organization. Because of the way it is structured, donations made to it, or to the legal fund it is sponsoring, are not tax deductible to the donor. For more information on NRWMAC, how it supports Lake Nacimiento, and to join its growing list of supporters.

What is NRWMAC?

The Nacimiento Regional Water Management Advisory Committee (NRWMAC) represents property owners, visitors and enthusiasts of all sorts that enjoy Lake Nacimiento. Our goal is to maximize the water level in Lake Nacimiento throughout the summer. Res Ops Meetings and NRWMAC’s Board meetings are the last Thursday of the month.

NRWMACs primary goals for lake Nacimiento water management

Maximize water levels up to the ideal level 790 ft., which stores more water for recreation & agriculture.

Maintenance of constant lake levels from May 1 through September 30 to enhance recreation activities and fish habitat.

Maintain year-to-year elevations through prudent management of transfers and releases.

If the tunnel is built, utilize transferred water from Nacimiento, being stored in San Antonio, prior to releasing water from Nacimiento.

What does NRWMAC do for you?

NRWMAC stands up for you at all of the Lake-related meetings held in Monterey and San Luis Obispo Counties. There is constant pressure from Monterey County for more water. The meetings we attend occur monthly in Salinas but in between are many other technical and operational meetings and seminars that require our presence

NRWMAC saw early on that the Quagga Mussel could be the end of our beautiful lake. We visited contaminated lakes as far away as Lake Mead to see the damage done. We, in conjunction with SLO County, and Monterey County, created a plan and we train all inspectors for all boats entering our lake. Our plan is updated yearly and the training is on -going. This alone is nearly a full time (unpaid) job.

NRWMAC has brought back the idea of a pipeline between Nacimiento and San Antonio, as another way to manage the amount of water stored. This idea has been taken up by Monterey County, who has designed their own version, …much different from NRWMAC’s vision. Their version may not benefit Lake Nacimiento owners and enthusiasts. This promises to be an expensive process and a lengthy series of meetings and we will need your help.

NRWMAC supports the rights of all of the property owners and recreational enthusiasts. At Lake Nacimiento.

Current Projects

QUAGGA MUSSELS

DON’T LET OUR LAKE GET INFESTED!!

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    • Make sure your vessel is Clean, Drained, and Dry.
    • Make sure you have a current Vessel Screening Permit, or a Resident Vessel Sticker and Resident Vessel Certificate.
    • If you are on the lake without a Vessel Screening Permit or a Resident Vessel Sticker and Certificate you are subject to a $2000 fine.
  • Repeated violation of the above may result in your launch ramp being closed.
READ MORE

LAKE LEVELS

Maximizing water levels for Property Owners, Visitors, and Water Enthusiasts

The Nacimiento Regional Water Management Advisory Committee (NRWMAC) represents property owners, visitors and enthusiasts of all sorts that enjoy Lake Nacimiento. Our goal is to maximize the water level in Lake Nacimiento throughout the summer.

READ MORE

Interlake Tunnel

What is an Interlake Tunnel and What Does it Mean for You?

Monterey County Water Resources Agency (MCWRA) is proposing building a tunnel to divert water from Lake Nacimiento into Lake San Antonio. The Nacimiento Regional Water Management Advisory Committee (NRWMAC) is concerned how the tunnel might affect Lake Nacimiento lake levels, recreation activities, property values, and water availability.

READ MORE

Health and Safety

Mercury Levels

The SLO County Health Dept. warns fishermen to be careful of what they eat.

Fire Safety

The greatest threat to private property and recreational facilities is a fire.

Lake Patrol

Over the last two years the Lake Ranger staff has been drastically reduced.

READ MORE
Lake-Nacimiento-Web-Cams

Lake Nacimiento Web Cams

Lake Nacimiento Web Cams

For different live views from around the lake, have a look at a few of our web cams.

Lake Nacimiento Web Cams

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