The Monterey Plus Amendments
Overturning the Monterey Plus Amendments to Protect California’s Freshwater Ecosystems and Freshwater Supplies
In 1994, after negotiating for several months in secret at a resort in Monterey, the California Department of Water Resources and five State Water Project contractors executed the Monterey Agreement, which significantly modified — and threatened the very core purpose of — the contracts of the California State Water Project, the country’s largest state-built water and power development and conveyance system. A complex network of reservoirs, aqueducts, and power and pumping plants, the State Water Project stores water and distributes it to urban and agricultural suppliers throughout California — supplying water for 755,000 acres of farmland and 23 million residents (two-thirds of the state’s population). Maintained and operated by the California Department of Water Resources, the system is also meant to help improve water quality in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and enhance other habitat for fish and wildlife.
The Monterey Plus Amendments are the California Department of Water Resources’ and the state water contractors’ second attempt at amending the state’s long-term water contracts. In 1995, three organizations successfully sued over the inadequacy of the “environmental impact report” for the first attempt, called the Monterey Amendments. The courts agreed that, given the statewide implications of the first Monterey Amendments, environmental documents should have been prepared by the Department — not a local agency, the Central Coast Water Authority.
And we won a key victory in our fight to keep California's water in the right hands when, in a pair of rulings on March 5, 2014, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley struck down the environmental review of the operation of the Kern Water Bank. Judge Frawley found that the Department of Water Resources failed to properly consider the impacts of the operation of the Kern Water Bank by San Joaquin Valley agribusiness interests when it prepared its environmental review in 2010. In October 2014, the judge struck down the environmental review of the Kern Water Bank, requiring the state Department of Water Resources to conduct a new review of Kern Water Bank.
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