Disadvantaged Community Plan for Drinking Water and Wastewater

On November 8, 2017, the Greater Monterey County Regional Water Management Group voted to approve the Integrated Plan to Address Drinking Water and Wastewater Needs of Disadvantaged Communities in the Salinas Valley and Greater Monterey County IRWM Region. The plan is available for download at the links below:

Database and Map Viewer: A database and mapping tool was created for this project, and is being hosted on a three-year renewable basis at California State University, Water Resources and Policy Initiatives. A new viewing platform, called the Greater Monterey County Community Water Tool, has been created to show the locations of disadvantaged and suspected disadvantaged communities, geographic areas with water quality contamination (including nitrate, arsenic, and hexavalent chromium contamination), and the boundaries of nearby water districts. The GMC Community Water Tool provides a powerful tool for the Greater Monterey County Regional Water Management Group, local agencies, and non-profit community assistance organizations to identify “hot spots” of contamination and to evaluate options for potential consolidation of small disadvantaged communities with nearby water utilities. The GMC Community Water Tool can be viewed at this link.

Background about the Disadvantaged Community Plan: In October 2014, the Regional Water Management Group for the Greater Monterey County Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Region received $500,000 in grant funds from the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) to develop an integrated plan to address drinking water and wastewater needs of disadvantaged communities in the Salinas Valley. The funds were appropriated by the California Legislature through Assembly Bill (AB) 1630 (Alejo), from fines and penalties from the Waste Discharge Permit Fund. In 2017, the Regional Water Management Group was provided an additional $200,000 in grant funds from the State Water Board to enable the Project Team to expand community engagement and evaluation of long-term solutions. The following objectives, and associated tasks, were identified for the planning effort:

  • Identify disadvantaged communities within the planning region, with a focus on small disadvantaged communities in unincorporated areas.
  • Identify drinking water and wastewater problems.
  • Develop a comprehensive inventory and database and create maps.
  • Identify potential solutions for (at minimum) each “high priority” community.
  • Work with each community to determine preferred solution(s).
  • Develop conceptual project descriptions and cost estimates for the “high priority” communities.
  • Identify potential funding sources for the proposed projects and for broader regional solutions.

Focus of Plan: The plan focuses on small disadvantaged communities, and communities suspected to be disadvantaged, in unincorporated areas that are served by state small water systems (5-14 connections), local small water systems (2-4 connections), and private domestic wells.

Environmental Justice Coalition for Water (EJCW) staff conducted extensive outreach to small communities in unincorporated areas of the region, surveying a total of 153 households in 25 communities, and covering 19 census block groups. Six of these communities were identified as disadvantaged and 15 were identified as suspected disadvantaged communities. “Disadvantaged community” status was later proven for many of the suspected disadvantaged communities by means of median household income (MHI) surveys conducted over the course of the project. The Project Team prioritized the communities according to need, and selected seven communities with the goal of identifying specific solutions for each. These communities were:

  1. Johnson Road, located in North Monterey County approximately 1.5 miles southeast of Las Lomas
  2. Walnut Avenue, located about a half mile west of the City of Greenfield
  3. Apple Avenue Water System #3, located within the City of Greenfield limits
  4. Santa Teresa Village, located approximately 0.8 miles north of the City of Soledad
  5. Hudson Landing Road, located approximately one mile west of Las Lomas
  6. Middlefield Road, located approximately seven miles northeast of downtown Salinas
  7. Schoch Road, located just north of Salinas

The Project Team worked in partnership with the Community Engineering Corps (CECorps), an alliance of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Water Works Association, and Engineers Without Borders-USA, to identify and evaluate solutions for each of the seven selected high priority disadvantaged communities. The plan describes the water problems and alternative long-term options for each community, recommended solution(s), potential barriers, community preference (if any), and next steps. The plan also provides overall recommendations based on observations of the Project Team over the course of the project.

For questions about the plan, please contact the Greater Monterey County IRWM Program Director, Susan Robinson, at srobinsongs@frontier.com.