NRWMAC remains committed to our constituents, those who live near, recreate on, and enjoy Lake Nacimiento. Our focus remains the same, that is to “Maximize Water Elevation and maintain a constant lake level throughout the summer months”. The past few years our attention has been on Dreissenid mussels. These invasive species of Zebra and Quagga mussels have and continue to be a threat to our beautiful lake.
Through the tireless efforts of many board members, NRWMAC has shaped the policy of access control at the public launch ramps, private ramp lake access, inspection forms, a resident vessel program and numerous other aspects related to protection of this wonderful resource. We have over 300 Level I certified inspectors and trainers that have worked closely with both San Luis Obispo and Monterey Counties to educate those who visit and use the lake.
During the implementation of the Salinas Valley Water Project, NRWMAC evaluated ways to achieve our primary objective of maximizing water levels in Lake Nacimiento. To that end the idea of an Interlake Tunnel was born. As it turns out the tunnel idea had been reviewed as an option in the 1991 Boyle report to Monterey County. The Interlake Tunnel would provide an alternate method to store additional water during wet years and provide various operational scenarios for water releases to maximize recreational water elevations at Lake Nacimiento.
NRWMAC has been working for the past few years to obtain funding for a detail feasibility study and construction plan. Recently Monterey County Water Resources Agency has revitalized the concept and made it their own. They have funded a preliminary design and build proposal and are currently soliciting vendors for engineering design and an environmental impact report.
Yet a broader view is necessary. There are other options that need to be considered in order to maximize the collection, storage and transport of water within the Salinas River Groundwater basin. Two extremely effective concepts need to be evaluated.
One is a pipeline in the Salinas River to convey water from the reservoirs to the users nearly 100 miles downstream in Salinas. It has been estimated that evaporation losses with the riparian corridor exceed 60,000 acre-feet annually. While running a river through a channel that has historically dried up every summer has attributed to the inundation of invasive plant species such as arundo and salt cedar. These invasive non-native species increase water losses and reduce channel capacity during winter storm flows. The use of pipeline would save this wasted water. Additionally a pipeline would allow a much faster reaction time to downstream needs and allow the operation of the river system in a more natural (historical) manner while at the same time maximizing the delivery of water to both municipal and agricultural users.
Second is another water storage option which could maximize the collection of annual rainfall from within the Nacimiento watershed. The “Jerrett Site” located on the Nacimiento River above Nacimiento Reservoir within the premises of Fort Hunter-Ligget could provide an additional 135,000 acre-feet of useable water storage in the Nacimiento watershed. This would be an incredible tool for maintaining a constant lake level over the summer months at Lake Nacimiento. The Jerrett site should provide captured water which could be used to offset the releases and evaporation which occur throughout the summer at Lake Nacimiento. This would mean a constant lake level during the summer months making the shoreline more stable, create consistent habits for fish, eliminate the need to move docks, buoys and channel markers, and create a large safe lake area on which to recreate. This is where we feel we should focus a majority of our attention as its benefit to those who use Lake Nacimiento would be of most value and most rewarding.