Pure Water Soquel will take already treated wastewater (that otherwise would be pumped out into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary) and instead pump it to a new water purification center where it will undergo a state-of-the-science, three-step purification process. The purification process, including microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet light with advanced oxidation, is proven to produce clean, safe, near-distilled water. The purified water will then be conveyed to the Seawater Intrusion Prevention Wells to replenish the basin and create a barrier against seawater intrusion.
The Project includes facilities in portions of the cities of Santa Cruz and Capitola, and in the Live Oak, Soquel, and Aptos communities of unincorporated Santa Cruz County. The two levels of treatment will happen at two locations: first, tertiary treatment will take place in a new facility located at the Santa Cruz Wastewater Treatment Facility. Advanced water purification will follow in a new center at the corner of Chanticleer Avenue/Soquel Avenue (Live Oak area). A new 8-mile system of pipelines under surface streets will transport water between the treatment facilities and to three new seawater intrusion prevention wells on Monterey Avenue, Willowbrook Lane, and Cabrillo College Drive. View a map of the treatment sites and conveyance pipelines.
The District's sole source of drinking water is from the Mid-County Groundwater Basin. The State of California has identified this basin as "critically overdrafted"—more water is being pumped out than can be naturally replenished. When the water level is too low, seawater enters the basin and contaminates the drinking water supply. This is called seawater intrusion and has already been detected at multiple locations along the coast. Without action to replenish the basin, contamination will continue and eventually make the basin unusable. The state has mandated that the groundwater basin be made sustainable by 2040.
By pumping pure water into the basin and raising its water level, Pure Water Soquel will help accomplish basin sustainability. Reducing the overdraft conditions will protect against and aid in preventing further seawater intrusion of the groundwater basin, promote beneficial reuse by reducing the discharge of treated wastewater to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary by 25% and help ensure a safe, clean, sustainable water supply for the community.
- PROVIDES A BARRIER AGAINST SEAWATER INTRUSION Helps prevent seawater intrusion from moving farther inland and contaminating drinking water wells. Southern Santa Cruz County, Monterey County, and many other communities around the world are challenged with seawater intrusion.
- RELIABLE AND DROUGHT-PROOF WATER SUPPLY Provides a sustainable, drought-proof supply of water that is available year-round, to supplement our overdrafted groundwater supply.
- HIGH-QUALITY WATER Uses proven technology (see back), provides purified water that meets all state and federal water quality criteria, and is cleaner than most bottled water.
- BENEFICIAL REUSE OF EXISTING SOURCE Reduces ocean discharge by 25%. Instead of treated wastewater being wasted to the Pacific Ocean, it will be purified and put to beneficial reuse by storing it underground for environmental protection and to keep groundwater wells salt-free.
- TIMELINESS Water rights, that are typical of surface water projects, and marine issues, that are typical of desalination projects, will not apply to PWS, thus potentially reducing the time to acquire permits.
- ECONOMIC VITALITY Estimated to support over $900 million dollars in economic benefits to our community.
The project is currently in various stages of design and construction, with the goal of being operational by early 2024. Certification of its Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Project Approval took place in 2018.
It is anticipated that the cost of the project is approximately $90 million (this is derived from the "Class IV Engineering Estimate," which approximates a cost range of $65 million to $145 million). The District has been awarded substantial grants and low-interest loans for planning, design, and construction:
- Over $2 million dollars in grants for early planning efforts
- A $50 million Proposition 1 Groundwater Implementation grant from the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB)
- Low-interest loans through the SWRCB's Seawater Intrusion Control Loan Program and the federal EPA's Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act Program, totaling over $100 million