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Environmental Services

Dean Messer, Chief

3500 Industrial Blvd.
West Sacramento, CA 95691
(916) 376-9699

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 942836
Sacramento, CA 94236-0001



The development of the Monterey Agreement began as a search for an answer to a single but critical problem in managing the SWP: how to allocate the water supply equitably during times of shortage. There had been a problem dating back to January 20, 1960, when the Contracting Principles for Water Service Contracts was published. Article 18 of the ensuing water supply contracts addressed this question.

While article 18 provisions covered several situations in which SWP water supply shortages might occur, Article 18(a) eventually became the most significant provision for allocating SWP water in times of insufficient water supply. During water shortages, Article 18(a) reduces water supply for agricultural contractors by a percentage not to exceed fifty percent (50%) in any one year or a total of one hundred percent (100%) in a series of seven consecutive years before any cut is made in municipal and industrial water supplies. Any necessary further reductions in deliveries are apportioned among all the contractors regardless of the use.

Because the available water supply was severely reduced during the 1987 to 1992 drought, DWR made cuts in agricultural allocations under Article 18(a). Agricultural contractors argued that such cuts were inequitable and were brought about as much by undeveloped project yield as by temporary hydrological conditions. They felt they were bearing an unfair share of the burden of water shortages.

The urban contractors' views about Article 18 and SWP operations differed significantly from those of agricultural contractors. With DWR pursuing its mandate to allocate SWP water supply equitably and solve a critical problem in water supply allocation, a long series of discussions and negotiations began among DWR and SWP contractors.

Finding a solution became increasingly urgent as drought conditions persisted. Some contractors began to experience financial hardships that could ultimately impact the financial stability of the SWP. During the course of negotiations, legislators and other concerned parties began to focus on the reliability of the SWP water supply and financial integrity.

Negotiations and Principles