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Posted on: December 19, 2018

Environmental Impact Report Certification

For Immediate Release

December 19, 2018

Contact: Melanie Mow Schumacher, Special Projects-Communications Manager
Phone: 831-475-8501 x153

Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors Certifies Final Environmental Impact Report and Approves Its Pure Water Soquel Groundwater Replenishment and Seawater Intrusion Prevention Project

Soquel, CA (December 19, 2018) –At its meeting last night (December 18), the Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors took another environmental step forward in protecting its groundwater supply from further contamination of seawater intrusion. Following detailed staff presentations, Board discussion, and public input by over 25 of the approximately 70 meeting attendees, the Board unanimously certified the Final Environmental Impact Report (Final EIR) for its proposed Pure Water Soquel Groundwater Replenishment and Seawater Intrusion Prevention Project (Project). With the Final EIR officially certified, the Board then approved the Project, which can now move forward towards creating a long-term, resilient, and diversified water supply aimed at basin sustainability.

"The water supply challenges we face are significant and can only be addressed with thoughtful, determined, and forward-looking decision-making. Certification of the Final EIR and approval of the Project are major milestones for the District and for the people who live, work, and have families here - among the most significant decisions the Board has made," said Tom LaHue, President of the Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors. "With the Board's affirmative actions, we're not only committed to ensuring water reliability for the water customers we serve today and in the generations to come - but we are also committed to protecting our environment and the shared groundwater resource of Santa Cruz Mid-County."

The Draft EIR was released last June for the required 45-day public review period. Following that review period, the Final EIR was prepared in order to respond to the public comments received and provide revisions, updates, and clarifications relating to those comments. The Final EIR (including the Response to Comments document and Draft EIR) was made available on December 7, 2018. The Final EIR, related documents, and information about the environmental review process are available on the District's website.

The Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin - the District's sole source of drinking water for its community that also provides groundwater to other municipal agencies and private well owners - is in a state of critical overdraft with seawater intrusion and contamination occurring at the coastline. To address this acute situation, the District has been exploring ways to protect and increase the sustainability of the groundwater supply. The District's Community Water Plan, developed through a significant public engagement and input process, outlines a number of tools aimed at managing the water shortage including water conservation, surface water transfers, use of desalinated water and/or storm water, and the Pure Water Soquel project.

This Project will develop a supplemental supply of purified water to replenish the overdrafted groundwater aquifers and create a seawater intrusion barrier. The Project will also promote beneficial reuse by reducing 25% of the discharge of treated wastewater our community disposes into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The Pure Water Soquel project will use proven water purification technology to clean recycled water to produce safe, high-quality drinking water. There are numerous projects operational or being built across the U.S. and abroad that rely on advanced water purification facilities for their communities, including Orange County and Los Angeles County, and even closer on the other side of Monterey Bay, where Monterey Peninsula Water Management District and Monterey One Water's Pure Water Monterey's project is currently being built.

The Project components include water treatment facilities, pump stations and pipelines, and groundwater recharge and monitoring wells. At Tuesday night's meeting, the Board approved the Project and prioritized project development and siting for: tertiary treatment at the Santa Cruz Wastewater Treatment Facility (SCWWTF) and the advanced water purification (AWP) treatment at the Chanticleer Site; while also coordinating with the City of Santa Cruz on the potential to site the full advanced water purification treatment at the SCWWTF provided no delay occurs to project schedule; and seawater intrusion prevention/recharge wells at Twin Lakes Church, Monterey Avenue, and Willowbrook Lane.

"Regional collaboration continues to demonstrate that agencies can work together on solving our complex water challenges," said Ron Duncan, General Manager. "As we develop and implement Pure Water Soquel, our agency will be better positioned to help address the State's mandate of basin sustainability by 2040. We appreciate the collaboration with the City and County of Santa Cruz, the City of Capitola, environmental, business, and service organizations, community leaders, and especially our customers. Together, we are standing strong in protecting our drinking water from seawater contamination."

The District has already received planning grant support through the California Prop 1 Groundwater Grant Program and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's Title XVI Program and will be seeking state and federal contributions to help fund the development of Project, estimated to cost $90M (2022 Dollars).

About Soquel Creek Water District

The Soquel Creek Water District is a nonprofit, 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.

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