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Rmi Salinas Report Final Draft

Rmi Salinas Report Final Draft

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Published by ksmith99
Rocky Mountain Institute Salinas Report Final Draft
Rocky Mountain Institute Salinas Report Final Draft

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Published by: ksmith99 on Apr 11, 2009
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01/31/2013

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Develop a regional whole-system, "soft path" water-management regime — yet another way to
increase local resource productivity.

Purposes:

•Ensure permanent, abundant, high-quality water supplies to all users in the region.
•Protect aquifers from saltwater infiltration.

Citizens of the Salinas Valley know too well that their water issues are notorious. The clash
between the northern and southern farmers, city residents, environmentalists, the county, and the
state has a long stressful history.

The most imposing threat to the Valley may not be the national economy, crime, the cost of
agricultural inputs, or the questions around residential and commercial development; but rather
the inability to develop long-term solutions to the region’s water dilemma.

RMI recommends that Valley leaders consider the water "soft path," which offers solutions that
agencies, companies, and individuals can pursue to meet the water-related needs of people and
businesses, rather than merely supplying water. It leads to systems that supply water of various
qualities to various appropriate uses, with higher quality water reserved for those uses that require
higher quality. The soft path includes a combination of greatly increased end-use efficiency, storm
water harvesting, storage innovations, precise management systems to avoid system losses, reuse
strategies that reduce water demand, and matching of system components to the exact quantities
and qualities required for appropriate classes and locations of end-use.

Appendix C compares “old school” to emerging “soft-path” approaches to water management.

Fortunately, the Salinas Valley has already started down this soft path with at least one remarkable
success. Ten years ago, a $75-million water reclamation plant began pumping treated sewage
water to irrigate 12,000 acres of crops. The valley became the largest user of treated sewage water
for irrigation in the United States. Though entirely necessary, this extraordinary success was also
insufficient. More solutions are required to avoid further erosion of the very foundation of the
region’s economy.

Rocky Mountain Institute: Sustainable Communities

29

Needed technical analysis:

Find a highly credible, nationally recognized organization with significant convening and
technical skills to help develop necessary solutions. Selection of the organization would need to
be supported by all major water stakeholders in the region. The solutions would be a package of
leverage points, with the highest net present value to all stakeholders moving forward.

Possible metrics:

•Reduction in overall water use
•Extent of seawater infiltration into the 400 ft aquifer and the prevention of infiltration
into 900 ft aquifer
•New projects identified and developed to enable the soft path

Next steps:

•Determine if there is the political will to pursue this opportunity.
•Develop a memorandum of agreement between the stakeholders that defines a
roadmap to total water management for the Salinas Valley.

Rocky Mountain Institute: Sustainable Communities

30

Steinbeck Museum

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