The Soquel Creek Water District is engaged in multiple approaches to combat over-drafting of the groundwater basin and seawater intrusion into our local water supply. It's important to remember that these severe water supply challenges affect everyone in our community - and we are all part of the solution. Over the next few months, this series of Water Wisdom columns will feature the viewpoints of local community members and organizations talking about the importance of creating and maintaining a sustainable water supply, as a community.
All of us who enjoy the Monterey Bay and its shoreline should thank the local nonprofit Save Our Shores (SOS), for its tireless work to ensure this natural treasure is protected, preserved, and enhanced. Since 1978, this organization has been leading the charge to safeguard the bay, working to maintain clean shores, healthy habitats, and living waters.
SOS Executive Director Katherine O'Dea says that her organization's mission and goals are well-aligned with those of the Soquel Creek Water District. "Our mission and purpose of ocean protection and conservation, especially Monterey Bay, are very complementary to those of the District," she notes. "Where our priorities lie in working to assure a clean, healthy, thriving marine environment, the District's are focused on providing an essential, fundamental need of life - a clean, sustainable supply of drinking water."
She goes on to say that, "The District's work to support local water resources really resonates with our goals. The ocean is ultimately the source of all water, and together we're addressing both the macro and local scale of the challenges and threats to water."
Katherine is well-versed in both sides of that equation, understanding not only the global threats to oceans worldwide, such as climate change, plastics pollution, wildlife disturbance, and habitat degradation but also the water supply challenges in the mid-county area. "The groundwater basin is in a critical state of over-draft, and with that comes documented saltwater intrusion which can destroy that water source," she says. "This problem comes from a combination of too little natural recharge due to climate variability, and over-use of the water that is there," Katherine notes that the District's water conservation education has been very successful in addressing part of the problem. "The second part of the solution is recharging the aquifer from a new source of water - and their water reuse program will accomplish that."
Appreciating that the District is taking a range of approaches to address the water supply problem, Katherine is confident in the Pure Water Soquel Project. "Water reuse, especially in the way the District will be implementing it, has many environmental benefits including reducing the amount of treated wastewater being pumped into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. With Pure Water Soquel, the District is on the right track to solve our local water supply challenges."
Another area of convergence between these two agencies is helping youth and families to understand and engage with protection of water resources - whether it's the oceans and shorelines, or the groundwater supply. Save Our Shores has programs to bring kids to the beach for the first time, offers a K-12 curriculum on marine science and conservation, and encourages students to become the next generation of environmental stewards with the SO.S. Wavemakers youth leadership network.
For their part, the District's educational outreach includes providing water education materials, offering school presentations for all grades, sponsoring water education assemblies at schools, and bringing its award-winning Mobile Education Trailer to schools, events, and festivals.
Save Our Shores and the Soquel Creek Water District are a good example of #InThisTogether, with harmonizing missions, complementary education and outreach, a focus on the long-term, and achievements around protecting water.