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Monterey County provides update on situation in Pajaro

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KION-TV) - Update March 15, 2023, at 4:40 p.m.- The County of Monterey has given an update to work being done on the Pajaro River levee breach.

The first phase of repairs was completed on Tuesday at around 5 p.m., said the county.

Overnight, crews placed another two feet of base rock on the slope to reinforce and build the levee toward the original elevation. The county says the current levee repair is holding river flows, which will decrease over the next several days.

Currently, around 13,000 are still under evacuation orders in Monterey County.

Shelters currently have over 300 evacuees.

  • Compass Church: 12
  • *Santa Cruz Fairgrounds (Currently at capacity and people are being turned away and are being provided free MST rides to any of the other shelters): 272
  • Castroville Recreation Center: 19
  • Salvation Army: 24

Drinking Water Orders NEW

Potable water distribution for users of the Pajaro community and Sunny Mesa water system is at the Pajaro Golf Club. Water bottles and trucks dispensing water are available.

In San Ardo, Monterey County and the Food Bank are supplying bottled water and water truck. Due to the flooding that impacted drinking water facilities, the drinking water supplied by

  • Pajaro Water System
  • Sunny Mesa Water System
  • San Ardo Water District

is potentially contaminated, says the county.

Current Evacuation Orders:

  • Areas of Aroyo Seco
  • Pajaro Community
  • San Ardo
  • Salinas River Areas Northwest of Spreckels (partial)
  • Areas of the Salinas River (Gonzales to Spreckels)

Lifted Evacuation Orders:

  • Areas of the Salinas River/Elkhorn & Moro Cojo Slough
  • Areas of the Salinas River on River Road (Greenfield to Gonzales)
  • West of River Rd. from Highway 68 south to Fort Romie Rd
  • Las Palmas 1, 2 and Indian Springs due to flooding at River Rd.
  • Areas of Carmel River

Volunteers are wanted to sort through donated items and can apply here. The Red Cross is also accepting volunteers.

The following schools are still closed:

  • North Monterey County Unified School District
  • Spreckels Union School District
  • San Ardo Union School District

Evacuation Warnings

  • Low-Lying Areas of the Castroville Community
  • Areas of the Salinas River (Gonzales to Spreckels)

Pajaro River levee breach nearly repaired

Update March 14, 2023, at 6:26 p.m.- A breach in the Pajaro River levee that had grown up to 400 feet has almost been repaired, according to Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo.

He said he spoke to a state contractor who told him this information as of 6 p.m. Tuesday.

"BIG THANKS to this outstanding levee repair crew for this heroic work, which is helping redirect flood waters back into the river," said Alejo. "This will make a significant difference, but more work continues as we monitor the flood waters & river levels!"

Courtesy of Luis Alejo.

Here is the work that was done throughout the day that was provided by Monterey County.

Monterey County leaders provide updates for Pajaro River levee breach

Monterey County Sheriff Tina Nieto began the press conference about the devastating flood in Pajaro, in part, with a simple statement: "Folks, we're not done yet."

The early Saturday flooding left no one injured or dead according to Sheriff Nieto, but it did leave the town of Pajaro partially submerged in water and more than a thousand people without a place to stay.

90 rescues took place as families scrambled to escape the flooding after a levee breached nearby.

The breach was about 120 feet in size with the Water Resources Board saying efforts to stop the flow ultimately failed.

It's flowing uncontrolled now, and is expected to remain that way until some temporary protections by state leaders are put in place to stop the flow from the breach.

Multiple concerns are still in play, however, as some people continue to try and drive through the flood, even around closures set up by local agencies.

"It may look like the road is safe to travel but the reality is that under the road is undermined and we're looking at areas where you can fall as much as 40 feet," says County Administrative Officer Sonia De La Rosa.

Beyond the Pajaro River, there's also concerns about the Salinas River that was expressed by the Water Resources Board Saturday afternoon.

"From Paso Robles all the way down to the King City bridge the peak has arrived, so our next concern is when those peak flows will reach Soledad," says Lew Bauman of the WRB. "It's currently forecast on March 12 at 11 a.m. Chualar on the 13th at 10 a.m. and Spreckels on the 14th at 4 a.m."

A question was also asked during the press conference about the Nixle alert system and if it was delayed in notifying people about the flooding and urgent need to evacuate in the early hours of the morning when the levee breached.

"We're actually double checking the Nixle system because there were some concerns that some alerts weren't going out," says De La Rosa. "Our understanding is it could be something to do with some of the broadband type issues or antenna issues but we're still tracking that down."

Watch here:

Monterey County advises Pajaro residents not to drink water after levee breach

Update: March 11, 2023, at 10:38 a.m.- A flash flood warning was issued for people living in the area affected by a levee breach on the Pajaro River. At least 56 people needed to be evacuated according to Cal Guard Soldiers. Residents in Pajaro are also being advised to not drink tap water.

The County of Monterey is advising the residents of Pajaro DO NOT drink the water. Do not use tap water for drinking and cooking until further notice.

Use only bottled water and do not try and treat the water yourself by boiling freezing, filtering, adding chlorine or other disinfectants, or letting water stand. None of these methods will disinfect the water says the county.

"The wells for the Pajaro Sunny Mesa WD were flooded during the recent storms and flood water may have entered into the well casing.  The flood water may be contaminated with chemicals that would not be made safe by boiling or disinfection," said the county.

See the graphic below to see if you are in that area:

Areas impacted will be the Elkhorn Slough and Pajaro River neighborhoods. Please evacuate or seek higher ground. In effect until 11:45 am.


According to the Monterey County Health Department, the Pajaro River levee breached around midnight on Friday, March 10. The Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, North Monterey County Fire, and CAL FIRE have been going door to door warning people about the breach.

The team is searching for anyone who might not have evacuated. Swift-water rescue team members are also on the scene. California National Guard says they have done at least 56 rescues near the Pajaro river.
The Levee break (Capt. Curtis Rhodes)
Farm lands flooded (Capt. Curtis Rhodes)
Flooded fields (Capt. Curtis Rhodes)
Flood water in the town of Pajaro (Capt. Curtis Rhodes)
The Levee break (Capt. Curtis Rhodes)

Anyone in the evacuation zone who needs help should call 9-1-1 immediately. People who have already evacuated may call 2-1-1 for information and referrals to disaster relief organizations.

Levee breach from above

Work on the levee has started. The County of Monterey will provide more information as it becomes available.

First Responders Warning of the breach

The closest evacuation shelter to the Community of Pajaro is at the Santa Cruz Fairground, 2061 E. Lake Blvd, Watsonville. There is an additional Shelter in Salinas at Compass Church, 10325 S. Main Street.  The County has established a Temporary Evacuation Center at the Prunedale Library, 17822 Moro Rd.

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Ricardo Tovar

Assignment/ Web Manager for KION News Channel 5/46 and Telemundo 23


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