Proposition 1 Water Bond funding grants up to $2 million to Soquel Creek Water District

By on February 8, 2018

California’s Proposition 1 Water Bond funding program, passed by voters in November 2014, has granted up to $2 million to Soquel Creek Water District (SCWD) to help fund planning efforts for SCWD’s proposed Pure Water Soquel Project, including technical and environmental evaluations. The district’s Pure Water Soquel Project would help prevent seawater from contaminating the groundwater by using purified, recycled water to replenish the underground aquifer, creating a clean water “barrier” against further seawater intrusion. Seawater contamination has already been detected in the coastal monitoring wells at both ends of the District (Pleasure Point area and Aptos/La Selva Beach area.) The groundwater basin is already identified by the state as “critically over-drafted” and mandated to be sustainable by 2040.

The Pure Water Soquel Project would take already-treated wastewater currently being discharged into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and purify it using a three-step advanced treatment process of micro-filtration, reverses osmosis, and UV-light/advanced oxidation. The end result is high-quality, purified water that meets or exceeds all state and federal drinking water standards, and can be used for replenishing the groundwater basin. This “One Water” approach would reuse water in a sustainable, full circle manner.

“The award of this grant shows the state’s recognition and support of the crucial work we’re doing to protect the groundwater basin,” said Dr. Bruce Daniels, president of the SCWD Board of Directors.  “Our use of this grant also illustrates how we are mindful of making the most efficient use of ratepayers’ money by leveraging it with state funding, toward ensuring a reliable, safe, and sustainable drinking water supply.”

Groundwater is currently SCWD’s only source of drinking water therefore the prevention of seawater intrusion from moving further inland is a top priority for both the District and the state. Receipt of the Proposition 1 Water Bond grant is both timely and extremely helpful to SCWD at this time. The process of using purified water to recharge groundwater basins is successfully being used in other places in California. Orange County Water District’s Groundwater Replenishment Project is the most widely known and can produce up to 100 million gallons (379,000 cubic meters) of water per day of near-distilled, high-quality water. The process is also used elsewhere in the United States and abroad.

Pure Water Soquel is part of the District’s Community Water Plan. It is being considered as one option to address the current over-drafting of the groundwater basin. It would diversify the SCWD’s water resources portfolio and help provide the district’s customers with water supply sustainability and resiliency. SCWD’s Board of Directors is considering the Pure Water Soquel Project as well as desalination, river water transfers and stormwater capture as options for diversification. Each of the options are in different stages of evaluation and have varying quantities and estimated costs.

The city of Capitola, County of Santa Cruz, city of Santa Cruz’s Public Works Department, Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency and the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County supported SCWD in its application for the Proposition 1 Water Bond funds. Legislators Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-29th District-Santa Crux) and State Senator William W. Monning (D-17th District- San Luis Obispo) were also supportive of the application for the planning grant.