The stormy start to the year has downed trees, caused flooding and power outages. But the rainfall has benefits. Excess water from the Carmel River is being stored for later use.
Just behind Seaside Middle School, a mint-green well hums loudly. Chris Cook says that sound is water going into the ground. He’s Director of Operations for California American Water.
On Friday, one day after an atmospheric river hit the region, the well’s flow meter showed over 1,000 gallons of water per minute going into the Seaside Basin. For perspective, Cook says your average garden hose puts out about 7 gallons per minute.
This well is part of Cal Am and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District’s Aquifer Storage and Recovery project. It’s a system that stores excess Carmel River flows during the winter in the basin for dry times.
“It's a good start to the season. It's not quite as much as the 16/17 winter, but it's still a great, above-average start,” Cook says.
Aquifer Storage and Recovery is part of the three-pronged solution to the Monterey Peninsula’s water supply problem. A recycled water plant that’s currently under construction and a yet-to-be-built desalination plant are also part of the solution.
A new $50 million Cal Am pipeline will eventually move all of that water. Right now, it’s carrying the excess water off the Carmel River.
“Historically we brought it over the hills from Carmel Valley to the Seaside area. And so that takes a lot of energy and a lot of restrictions with use. So now that we can go around the Peninsula at a lower elevation, it’s a great opportunity,” Cook says.
Cook expects this year’s collection of excess water to last through May.
Editors Note: California American Water is one of the many local businesses that supports KAZU. Underwriters do not affect our journalism.