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Water Wisdom

Posted on: August 1, 2022

Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency Receives $7.6 Million Grant! - August 2022

Funds will help implement elements of the Groundwater Sustainability Plan


This month we are thrilled to report some really great news!   In May, the California Department of Water Resources Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program awarded a $7.6 million grant to the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency (MGA). In order to share this exciting information, I’m going to use some acronyms. Read through to the end and see if can count how many!

This grant is for the implementation of the Basin Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP); a plan which is required by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014. SGMA requires local agencies to form Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA) for the high and medium priority basins (the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin is a high priority basin), which then must develop and implement a GSP to avoid undesirable results, mitigate overdraft conditions, and make the basin sustainable by 2040. 

The MGA is an 11-member board representing Central Water District, City of Santa Cruz, County of Santa Cruz, Soquel Creek Water District (District), and private well owners – all of whom share use of the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin. Acting as the local GSA, a GSP was created and submitted to the State, which accepted it in mid-2021. 

The projects funded by the grant are part of the implementation of the GSP. The District’s Pure Water Soquel project is a significant element of the GSP and is leading the way toward achieving basin sustainability.

Among the key grant funded GSP implementation projects are:

  • Inland groundwater pumping optimization, including design and construction of the Cunnison Lane well. This will assist with reducing reliance on groundwater pumping from wells nearer to the coast by increasing pumping at more inland locations. Pumping and redistribution of groundwater extraction to wells more inland is a critical component to basin sustainability. With this funding, the District will continue to implement groundwater adaptive management and extraction for various groundwater wells so that inland wells near the Pure Water Soquel seawater intrusion prevention (SWIP) wells will continue to be optimized. 
  • Aquifer injection/aquifer storage and recovery (ASR), including design and construction, to improve groundwater supplies. ASR would inject excess surface water, treated to drinking water standards, into the Basin for use as an underground storage reservoir, and extract stored water during periods of water supply shortages. Any ASR project would need to be designed with additional capacity to contribute to the restoration of the Basin.
  • Park Avenue transmission main/bottleneck improvements via replacing an undersized (8”) water main in this area with a larger pipeline (12”) to allow for optimal redistribution of municipal groundwater pumping. This will increase system reliability and allow more flexibility to reduce groundwater extraction of the District’s coastal wells and shift pumping more inland.
  • Groundwater and hydraulic modeling to provide data for more informed sustainable groundwater management. This modeling will provide key information with which to consider additional indirect potable reuse and ASR implementation with potential of resources between agencies, with a combination of surface water, groundwater, and purified recycled water (known as conjunctive use). Together with water quality and economic analyses, sufficient data will then exist to develop an efficient and highly-optimized plan.

The projects funded by this grant are critical to the implementation of the MGA’s GSP. And it’s worth noting that our neighbor to the south, Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency, received a similar grant to create an alternative water source for agriculture, and to reduce groundwater overdraft and seawater intrusion. The funding of these projects is a significant step toward groundwater sustainability and a resilient, reliable water future for our coastal communities. 

And now for our acronym quiz: how many acronyms are defined in this article? If you answered six, you’re correct and can now use these acronyms to impress (or annoy) your friends and family! The terms converted to acronyms were:

  • Mid-County Groundwater Agency (MGA)
  • Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP)
  • Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)
  • Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA)
  • Seawater intrusion prevention (SWIP)
  • Aquifer storage and recovery (ASR)

Talk to you later (TTYL) in next month’s column!

As always, if you have any questions about this month’s topic or anything else related to Soquel Creek Water District, feel free to contact us at outreach@soquelcreekwater.org or 831-475-8501 x118 and visit www.soquelcreekwater.org

Photo of MGA at State Capital

from left to right: Melanie Mow Schumacher (Soquel Creek Water District), Sierra Ryan (County of Santa Cruz), Ron Duncan (Soquel Creek Water District), Carla Christensen (Soquel Creek Water District), Kevin Crossley (City of Santa Cruz), Dr. Tom Lahue (Soquel Creek Water District) celebrating after receiving the grant for the Santa Cruz Mid-county Groundwater Agency in Sacramento.


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