The Water Resources Agency manages, protects, stores and conserves water resources in Monterey County for beneficial and environmental use, while minimizing damage from flooding to create a safe and sustainable water supply for present and future generations.
Monterey County development activity is regulated through permitting to ensure safe and responsible growth. All new development must comply with various land use policies and building code regulations. Some of these policies and regulations are related to countywide floodplain management, drainage control, and water supply protection. MCWRA is responsible for ensuring all development has considered and complied with these water resources related regulations.
Land Use Permits
A land use permit, commonly known as a “discretionary permit”, is a permit required to allow certain types of development. The Monterey County RMA-Planning Department determines which discretionary permits need MCWRA review and approval. MCWRA reviews these permits and determines which projects should consider impacts to any of the following:
- FEMA 100-year floodplain
- stormwater runoff
- groundwater supplies
MCWRA may deem a permit application incomplete if the impacts to these water resources are not sufficiently considered. Permit applicants are encouraged to contact MCWRA staff if their projects involve development in the FEMA 100-year floodplain, propose large areas of newly impervious building coverage, or increase existing water use.
MCWRA is responsible for ensuring a construction project has addressed the following before a construction permit is issued by the Monterey County RMA-Building Services Department:
- Are you located in a FEMA 100-year floodplain? Structures located in the FEMA 100-year floodplain must be constructed in accordance local and federal floodplain management regulations. The General Manager of the MCWRA is the Monterey County Floodplain Administrator who is appointed to administer and enforce these floodplain management regulations. All new development and improvements to structures in the floodplain will require MCWRA review and approval prior to the issuance of any construction permits.
- Does your project require a drainage plan? Most construction projects will require a drainage plan to be prepared by a registered civil engineer or licensed architect. If your project is located in the NPDES Urbanized Area, you must comply with new stormwater post-construction runoff requirements enforced by the Monterey County RMA-Environmental Services Department. If the project is not located in this area, MCWRA will analyze the permit application to determine if a drainage plan is needed. This is done in consideration of the 2010 Monterey County General Plan and the various Area and Land Use Plans.
- Does your project require verification of an available water supply? Construction projects located within the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District’s boundary need Monterey County’s approval first. MCWRA is the agency responsible for this approval. Prior to applying for your MPWMD water permit, your MPWMD Water Release Form must be submitted to MCWRA for approval and signature.
MPWMD Residential Water Release Form and Water Permit Application
MPWMD Non-Residential Water Release Form and Water Permit Application
MPWMD forms may be electronically completed and submitted to MCWRA. Your electronic submittal can be completed by using the fillable MPWMD form (in .pdf above) and emailing the saved form to Mike Logsdon, Water Resources Technician, email@example.com.
Floodplain, Drainage, And Water Supply Regulations
Monterey County Code Chapter 16.16 (Countywide Floodplain Ordinance) specifies regulations for floodplains in Monterey County. The purpose of the ordinance is to minimize public and private losses due to flood conditions in specific areas and is a requirement for continued participation in the FEMA National Flood Insurance Program.
Monterey County Code Title 21 21.64.130 (Zoning Ordinance) specifies regulations for land use in the Carmel Valley floodplain. The purpose of this section is to protect the Carmel River and its corridor including visual aspects, value as wildlife habitat and stabilize the river channel; preserve the rural character of Carmel Valley; and promote the public health and safety by lessening local flood potential and flood-related hazards.
The 2010 Monterey County General Plan addresses unincorporated areas of the county, with the exception of coastal areas, and sets forth goals and policies to guide future decisions that relate to the physical development of Monterey County. MCWRA provides advice and land use guidance for the consideration of the following goals:
- Goal S-2 (Flood Hazards) - Reduce the amount of new development in floodplains and, for any new development that does occur, minimize the risk from flooding and erosion;
- Goal S-3 (Drainage) - Ensure effective storm drainage and flood control to protect life, property, and the environment; and,
- Goal PS-2 (Water Quality and Supply) - Assure a safe and sustainable water supply to meet the county’s current and long-term needs.
Due to the diversity of Monterey County, geographically smaller plans were created to provide more specific policies unique to particular geographical areas. MCWRA staff utilizes the following Area and Land Use Plans for specific floodplain management, drainage control, and water supply policies:
- Inland Area/Master/Specific Plans - Seven Area Plans (Cachagua, Central Salinas Valley, Greater Monterey Peninsula, Del Monte Forest, Greater Salinas, North County, South County, and Toro), Agricultural & Winery Corridor Plan, and the Carmel Valley Master Plan.
- Coastal Area - Four Land Use Plans (Big Sur Coast, Carmel, Del Monte Forest, and North County Coastal).
On May 7, 2014, Article XI Monterey County Water Resources Agency Fees was adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the MCWRA and incorporated into the Master Fee Schedule. Fees are collected for services provided by MCWRA related to the following:
- Land use permits
- Subdivision activities
- Planning services
- Water well permits
- Hydrogeologic Report Review and Long-term Sustainable Water Supply Determination
- Hydrogeologic Report Preparation
Permit fees, with the exception of fees for water permits, are collected by the RMA-Planning and Building Services Departments. Fees for water well permits are collected by the Monterey County Health Department. Please see the Current Land Use Fees (effective July 1, 2014) for the above MCWRA services.