With the recent storms causing emergency water shortages in the City of Santa Cruz and the Town of Davenport, the Soquel Creek Water District (District) has stepped in to assist both its neighbors. The District is providing up to approximately 1 million gallons per day to Santa Cruz and 50,000 gallons per day to Davenport, as a short-term measure to help ensure continued water service to the people, homes, and businesses in those areas.
On Monday, the Santa Cruz Water Department discovered a significant leak in one of its key water delivery pipelines, believed to be caused by storm-related impacts. At the same time, the downpours caused extreme turbidity in a stream feeding the County-operated surface water treatment plant which serves Davenport, making that water source temporarily unusable. Santa Cruz usually supplements its water supply with reserves from Loch Lomond Reservoir when unable to treat San Lorenzo River water due to storm-related turbidity. However, the City is currently unable to tap Loch Lomond until the leak in the pipeline is fixed. With both areas experiencing a temporary reduction in drinking water supply, they requested assistance from the Soquel Creek Water District.
"Even though we're in a long-term water shortage, providing water to our neighbor agencies in an emergency situation is the right thing to do for our community," said Tom LaHue, President of the District's Board of Directors. It's fortunate that an alternate water source - such as groundwater - can offer some relief and that the District is in a position to provide Santa Cruz and Davenport a short-term addition of water.
District water is being transferred to Santa Cruz via interconnection pipelines and is expected to continue until completion of pipe repairs, estimated to occur sometime next week. The water to Davenport is being transferred by water trucks for the next several days or until the stream water there becomes less turbid. The District will be compensated for the water provided.
In addition to highlighting the mutual support among neighboring water-supply agencies, these circumstances illustrate the potential difficulty in transferring excess river or stream water, especially during and subsequent to storms. For example in this situation, both Santa Cruz and Davenport/Santa Cruz County determined that the river/stream water became too turbid to treat and is temporarily unusable as part of their drinking water supply.
"People may have the misconception that capturing storm water would serve as a panacea for additional water supply," said District General Manager Ron Duncan. "But as we see from this situation the water quality and turbidity that results from winter water is sometimes too poor for treatment facilities to handle, and it can't be depended upon."