For Immediate Release
February 13, 2023
Melanie Mow Schumacher, Special Projects-Communications/Assistant General Manager
Phone: 831-475-8501, ext. 153
Soquel Creek Water District Board Votes to Sunset
Successful Water Demand Offset Program
Soquel, CA (February 13, 2023) - The Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors voted at its February 7 meeting to sunset its Water Demand Offset (WDO) program, a water conservation effort launched in 2003 that reduced the impact of new development on the District’s threatened groundwater basin.
“In the 20 years since the WDO was started, the program has been very successful in terms of water conservation and resource management,” said Board President Carla Christensen. “It served as a bridge, allowing planned development in our service area to be built without adding new water demands to our endangered groundwater basin while the District was developing a supplemental water supply.”
Under the WDO program, new development paid a fee to offset its “water footprint” or impact on the District’s groundwater supply. Fees collected under the WDO program were used to fund water conservation and water supply projects such as low-flow toilets, innovative water main flushing technologies, and automated metering infrastructure (AMI). In the 20 years since the WDO program began, the District and its regional partners have made significant progress in reducing water demand and protecting the over-drafted Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin. Between 2000 and 2021, the District’s water production decreased by 43%, even though new service connections increased by about 6%, a result of a host of conservation programs and efforts by the District and its customers, efficiency improvements in plumbing fixtures, and Stage 3 water curtailments.
The WDO program was initially created to be an interim program while the District implemented a sustainable water supply that would increase groundwater levels to prevent further seawater intrusion. The Pure Water Soquel project, currently under construction and due to come online in 2024, will provide that supplemental water supply and is expected to allow groundwater levels to recover, mitigate seawater intrusion, and meet future water supply demands.
The Board approved sunsetting the program and then, in five years, evaluate re-initiating a WDO program, if needed. On Tuesday evening, the Board also directed staff to explore ways to increase customer sign-ups in the District’s WaterSmart program, which allows customers to track their hourly, daily, and monthly water use, pay bills, receive automated leak alerts, set alerts for unusual use and get personalized recommendations for water saving.
Participants with development projects enrolled in the WDO program will receive information from the District in the coming weeks. For questions about the status of projects enrolled in the WDO program, participants are encouraged to contact Shelley Flock, Water Resources Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fees from the WDO program currently fund the District’s AMI upgrade project, which provides early leak detection and is estimated to save the District an estimated 50–85 million gallons of water per year (150–260 acre-feet per year). As WDO fees collected to date have paid for about half of the AMI project costs, the Board also approved recouping the remaining AMI project costs through water capacity charges paid by all new water service connections. This ensures that new development still bears the cost of mitigating its demands on the water supply.
About Soquel Creek Water District
The Soquel Creek Water District is a not-for-profit local government agency that provides water resource management within its service area to deliver a safe and reliable supply of high-quality water to meet present and future needs in an environmentally sensitive and economically responsible way.