The mission of providing reliable services in a cost-effective and environmentally sensitive manner is now prevalent amongst most public agencies and collaboration is a key ingredient. No longer are agencies bound by their jurisdictional boundaries, the "new norm" is collaboration, sharing of resources, and creating mutually beneficial partnerships. When the Soquel Creek Water District adopted its action-oriented Community Water Plan (CWP) in 2015, the community provided input on three primary components: (1) promoting water conservation, (2) being proactive with groundwater management, and (3) obtaining supplemental water supplies such as advanced water purification for groundwater replenishment, river water transfers, and desalination. Each of these three components relies on creative collaboration with other agencies to create win-win opportunities for our entire Mid-County community.
Collaborators: Santa Cruz County Water Conservation Coalition (Soquel Creek Water District, City of Santa Cruz, County of Santa Cruz, Central Water District, Scotts Valley Water District, San Lorenzo Valley Water District, City of Watsonville, Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency, Ecology Action)
Description and Status: Collaboration on water conservation continues to thrive in Santa Cruz County. The group secured the website name watersavingtips.org over 15 years ago and partners together on countywide events such as SC Earth Day Festival, SC County Fair, the Garden Faire, and the Redwood Mountain Fair. They recently sponsored a high-school video contest to showcase our youth's talents and passion for saving water.
Collaborators: Soquel Creek Water District, City of Santa Cruz, County of Santa Cruz, Central Water District, Private Well Owners
Description and Status: In 2014, California passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act which requires local agencies to manage and achieve groundwater sustainability by 2040 to 2042. After years of working together, a broader and more formal agency (of the collaborators listed) was created in early 2016 called the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency (MGA). Next, local agencies, private well owners, and other community stakeholders will create a plan for the entire groundwater basin to become sustainable. For more information, visit the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency website.
Evaluating Three Potential New Sources of Water Supply
Advanced Water Purification for Groundwater Replenishment
Collaborators: Soquel Creek Water District, County of Santa Cruz Sanitation District, City of Santa Cruz and other CA agencies currently utilizing advanced purified water
Description: This project has been selected by the District Board as its preferred project for a new source of water. It would involve taking municipal wastewater from the Santa Cruz County Sanitation District or the City of Santa Cruz, purifying it to produce 1,500 acre-feet per year of high-quality water, and then injecting it into the ground to recharge the aquifer and provide a barrier to seawater intrusion. Orange County Water District has been purifying recycled water to use as groundwater replenishment for over 40 years!
Current Status: The District Board and Staff toured two facilities operated by West Basin Municipal Water District and Orange County Water District this spring. Environmental Science Associates (ESA) was retained in May 2016 to develop an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) which is anticipated to be released in late 2017 to early 2018. In July, District staff submitted a pre-application for grant money under Proposition 1.
River Water Transfer
Collaborators: Soquel Creek Water District, City of Santa Cruz
Description: This new source includes transferring excess winter river water that would be treated at the City of Santa Cruz Graham Hill Treatment Plant and then transported to the Soquel Creek Water District pipeline system. There are two projects in development:
- Short-term Pilot project - Purchasing excess water (with Pre-1914 water rights) from the City of Santa Cruz (no water rights issues)
- Long-term Project - Potentially transferring larger volumes of excess water from the City of Santa Cruz (requires water rights to be obtained and/or changed)
Current Status: The two agencies recently revised their short-term pilot project agreement and the District hopes to obtain a required permit amendment from the CA Department of Drinking Water and complete its operational preparation to initiate the pilot project this fall. If available, the District would purchase approximately 300 acre-feet of water between November and April. Water quality will be monitored due to the effects of blending surface water with groundwater. In terms of the long-term alternative, the District is working with the City on data sharing while the City works on further evaluation of fishery issues, water rights, and technical feasibility.
Desalination in Moss Landing
Collaborators: Deep Water Desal LLC, Soquel Creek Water District, other water agencies in Monterey County
Description: In May 2015, the District signed a Memorandum of Interest (MOI) of potentially purchasing 1,500 acre-feet per year of desalinated water as a new source from Deep Water Desal LLC, a private company proposing to build a seawater desalination project in Moss Landing, CA. The MOI is non-binding and does not obligate the District to move forward or commit financially.
Current Status: This project's Draft EIR is scheduled to be released early next year. Also, DeepWater Desal is finishing up its financial model revisions to determine the cost of the water. At that time a more formal purchase agreement for water agencies may be considered.
In closing, our greatest pride is the long-standing partnership we have with our customers and our community - to who we proudly serve and provide reliable, high-quality water to. We always appreciate constructive input and feedback on all District activities.
If you have any questions about this month's topic or anything else related to Soquel Creek Water District, feel free to email Melanie Schumacher or call 831-475-8501, ext. 153 for more information.