Lake Nacimiento Save The Dragon

$112,626 of $500,000 goal

Raised by 523 people in 11 months
Lake Nacimiento may soon look like this if Monterey County doesn’t stop its continued mismanagement of the reservoir and massive taking of water. Please donate to the GoFundMe campaign, as explained below, to prevent this disaster.

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:

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 forward this email and this GoFundMe link to everyone on your mailing list.

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, please visit its website at http://www.nrwmac.org.
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On January 15, 2019, the Nacimiento Regional Water Management Advisory Committee (NRWMAC) filed a lawsuit against Monterey County, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors, the Monterey County Water Resources Agency (MCWRA), et al., in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. The suit alleges that the defendants violated their obligation to operate Lake Nacimiento Reservoir in such a way so as to provide sufficient water levels for recreation. The suit further alleges the defendants did not provide all the documents responsive to a Public Records Act request concerning communications and court filings related to the lake. And the suit seeks injunctive relief to prevent the defendants from continuing to release more water than it is allowed to under permits issued by the California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board). NRWMAC alleges that property owners have been damaged in an amount not less than $120 million, a figure that is based on an economic analysis considering multiple factors. To the extent that the $120 million is recovered, it would be distributed amongst NRWMAC’s constituents whose property values have been diminished by the loss of recreation on the lake.

The lawsuit may be reviewed on NRWMAC’s website http://nrwmac.org/knowledge-base

Also, on January 18, 2019, NRWMAC lodged a complaint with the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal EPA) alleging that MCWRA diverted more water from Lake Nacimiento than permitted by the State of California, which limits withdrawal of water from the lake to 180,000 acre-feet per year. Based on publicly available data, it appears that 184,626 acre-feet was released from the lake during the period from October 1, 2017 through September 31, 2018. This amounts to 4,626 acre-feet more than was allowed. The complaint further alleges that the reduction in the level of water in the reservoir has adversely affected the quality of the water for domestic use.

The State Water Board - Division of Water Rights, the State Water Board - Division of Drinking Water, and the State of California Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board are currently investigating NRWMAC’s complaint to Cal EPA.

NRWMAC will provide updates during the pendency of the lawsuit and the investigation of the environmental complaints.

If you value your recreation, water quality, way of life and property values, please donate to NRWMAC’s GoFundMe campaign today – even if you have previously donated. If you prefer you can privately donate using the nrwmac.org link below, or mail a check to NRWMAC at P.O. Box 398, Paso Robles, CA 93447. 

Now more than ever your donation will make a difference. Please share this with your friends, family and anyone you know that uses or cares about the lake, wildlife, and future of the lake.

Please donate today, using GoFundMe, private donations can be given at http://nrwmac.org/save-the-dragon/donate-today and thank you for your continued support.
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November 13th update -

On September 19th, the Monterey Court denied NRWMAC from entering the existing lawsuit. This should have been an easy task to accomplish as the requirement to intervene in an existing lawsuit is simply to show we had an interest in the outcome., and we obviously do have that interest. However, to make sure we had all our bases covered, we also included a few defendants that have water rights from the lake and have pipes in the lake as their sole source of water. The court refused our state requested intervention. In short, we got hometowned by Monterey.

We have fought back by filing an appeal with the California State Water Board circumventing the court and then additionally we are preparing to file our own lawsuit against Monterey in San Luis Obispo court. The suit we are filing in the next few weeks is for the mismanagement of the water and Monterey's refusal to follow their water management agreement with the State. This management agreement requires them to balance recreation with the other needs for water releases.

We are making great headway with our expert attorneys, have done exhaustive research and are confident we have a path to success to make Monterey County change their lake operations procedure to better support recreation and keep water levels at acceptable levels.

To fund this lawsuit, NRWMAC created this GoFundMe page, and NRWMAC board members donated $15k to start the fund. To date, approximately 400 people of the 6,500 people around the lake, have donated, and legal fees to date have cost almost half of the money that has been raised so far.

The new lawsuit will be filed in San Luis Obispo Court in a couple of weeks, and we are anticipating Monterey to fight this action as hard as they can, and our attorney’s have estimated the cost of this battle in the courts to reach as much as $500,000. As a result we are forced to update our GoFundMe goal to match this amount.

The NRWMAC board has been discussing the unimaginable reality of the situation. The organization exists to protect the interests of over 6,500 residences around the lake as well as the businesses that benefit from those residences and lake users.

Monterey's actions are destroying our lake use, our property values, and even the wildlife that generates from the lake. In one year Monterey drained Lake Nacimiento from a water elevation of 100% full to 10% left and many areas are dry lake bed. That is mismanagement at best! Its been represented by many realtors in the area that if Monterey County actions aren't stopped the property values could drop 25% in the next few years. Property values around the lake have already started dropping, and one only needs to drive around the area observe all the for sale signs of homes that aren't selling.

Here’s the point... NRWMAC cannot be effective against Monterey without litigation. And litigation requires major financial support by the land owners and businesses affected around the lake. However, over 90% of these people haven't provided any financial support to help themselves.

So why are we doing what we’re doing? The reality is that the lawsuit is being filed in your behalf, there is a long way to go with it, and Monterey has attorneys and money to fight with… and we need your support. If we don't get contributions immediately, we will be forced to shut down the litigation and the 6,500 people around the lake will no longer have any representation. Nacimiento water will be used/abused as Monterey sees fit. There will no longer be any coordinated resistance against Monterey.

Property owners and Lake enthusiasts will be left to fend for themselves against Monterey County.

People waiting to see if their donation will make a difference, I can tell you, now is the time if you value your recreation, way of life and property values. Later may not exist. We must decide if we want to protect our property values, lake life and the wildlife that goes with it or if we prefer dust/mud, dirt bikes, a dead lake, and lower property values.

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

Private donations: nrwmac.org/save-the-dragon/donate-today/

Thank you for your continued support.
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On August 15, 2018, the Nacimiento Regional Water Management Advisory Committee (“NRWMAC”) filed a legal action detailed below in the Monterey County Superior Court to protect Lake Nacimiento enthusiasts, property owners and businesses. To date, with your contributions, the NRWMAC “Save the Dragon” GoFundMe Legal campaign has raised over $50,000.00 and we are grateful to all of those who have contributed so far. We need your help to continue the fight.

NRWMAC retained a law firm that specializes in water rights law, as well as an expert in surface water hydrology, to examine all of the legal options available to it in dealing with Monterey County’s management of the lake and the water releases. While researching and preparing a path forward, NRWMAC’s lawyers discovered a lawsuit already in progress in Monterey County.(1) This action was filed in January of 2017, and involves, among others parties, the Salinas Valley Water Coalition (“The Coalition”), the Monterey County Water Resources Agency (“MCWRA”) and the Monterey County Board of Supervisors. In the lawsuit, the Coalition is demanding that even more water be released from the lake on a permanent and continuing basis.(2) Although they should have been, interested parties, (property owners, NRWMAC, etc.) were never informed of this lawsuit by either the parties or the court.

The original parties in this lawsuit do not represent either the property interests around the lake, or the recreation or business interests. If the Coalition prevails, the result will be that an even greater amount of water will be released from Lake Nacimiento, a legal precedent on those releases will be established, and water levels will be much lower.

On August 15, 2018, NRWMAC’s attorneys filed a “Motion in Intervention” in Monterey County. This is a legal mechanism whereby NRWMAC seeks to join the existing lawsuit. NRWMAC is not taking the side of any of the parties in the lawsuit. Rather, by intervening, NRWMAC is ensuring that its interest, and that of its constituents, be accounted for concerning the recreational aspect of the lake, and that any decision rendered by the court in respect of water releases, now or in the future, takes into account these interests. A hearing on the intervention motion is scheduled for September 19, 2018. To read the Motion in Intervention, follow this link: www.nrwmac.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Motion-Intervene-180815.pdf

NRWMAC’s intervention in this lawsuit is the first step in gaining a voice before the court, before the California State Water Resources Control Board, and with Monterey County, in compelling the recognition of the rights of Lake Nacimiento residents, property owners, visitors and enthusiasts. It also establishes NRWMAC’s standing in any future legal action, and is critical in the efforts to protect the Lake levels, property values, preserve individual property owners riparian water rights and recreational uses.

A huge thank you goes out to everyone who has already contributed to NRWMAC’s GoFundMe campaign. The cost to fund this legal battle is significant and everyone’s participation is key to making it successful. If you have not yet contributed to the fund, please give what you can. Give again, if you are able. And pass the word about this issue, the fund and what NRWMAC is doing. Let others know about the problem and the need to raise additional funds to Save the Dragon and to keep recreation flourishing!

(1) The parties are currently before the California State Water Resources Control Board, which will conduct evidentiary hearings in the matter.

(2) The Coalition also alleges that Monterey County failed to provide water in previous years, under a Proposition 218 tax assessment, and seeks to have property taxes lowered as a result. This aspect of the current lawsuit does not involve either NRWMAC or it constituents.
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$112,626 of $500,000 goal

Raised by 523 people in 11 months
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