As of July 21, Soquel Creek Water District (District) has temporarily discontinued use of its Country Club well as staff explores a permanent treatment process for this well to comply with new state regulations for 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP) in drinking water.
The District's water meets or exceeds all drinking water testing requirements and regulations. The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) adopted this new TCP regulation just last week, setting the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for TCP at 5 parts per trillion (ppt), effective in January 2018. That guidance from the SWRCB enables the District, and other water agencies in California, to work toward reducing levels of TCP that exceed the new regulatory limit. As the District examines treatment methodologies, it has ceased use of this one well in its system where levels of TCP exceed the new state standard. At various times since 2008, the detected levels of TCP in the water from that well ranged from <5 to 15 ppt, and averaged 8.7 ppt. Even though the new standard is not effective until 2018, the District is taking steps to assure water quality for now and into the future.
"Our fundamental mission is to provide safe, high-quality water to the people who live, work and vacation here in the District," said Dr. Tom LaHue, President of the District's Board of Directors. "We never stray from that goal and we want to assure our customers that we take this new regulation very seriously. While the well is off, we're working hard to create a treatment process that allows us to use it in the future, as a source of clean, absolutely safe drinking water."
This new regulation and the discontinued use of this groundwater well illustrate the importance of the District's Community Water Plan (CWP). The CWP is a long-range roadmap to protect our endangered groundwater - the District's sole source of water - and achieve water supply sustainability by 2040 (as mandated by the state).
One of its key elements is diversifying the District's water supply sources, including the Pure Water Soquel project which proposes to replenish the groundwater basin with purified, recycled water. This project would aid in protecting against further seawater intrusion into the groundwater and contribute to the overall water supply for District customers.
The Country Club well that has been taken offline served Seascape, Rio Del Mar, La Selva and portions of Aptos. Customers in these areas were getting a blend of water from the District's five other nearby wells (none of which have detected levels of TCP). TCP is a man-made chemical and has been used historically in industrial cleaning solvents and some soil fumigant pesticides. The TCP detected in our area was mostly likely from past fumigant use when the area was used for agriculture.
Some people who use water TCP in excess of the MCL over many years may have an increased risk of getting cancer, based on studies in laboratory animals. More information on TCP can be found on the SWRCB's website. The District, along with dozens of other water agencies in California, has filed a lawsuit against Dow Chemical and Shell Oil - manufacturers of TCP - in an attempt to recover future costs of cleaning the well and treating its water sufficiently to meet state standards.