01-2017 Reflecting on 2016, Leaping into 2017

Posted on January 2nd, 2017

Happy New Year! Soquel Creek Water District is proud to be an integral part of the Santa Cruz Mid-County community for over 55 years. To kick off 2017, we'd like to reflect back on a few of our key moments in 2016:

February 2016 - Ron Duncan was appointed the District's new general manager. Prior to this, he worked for the District for thirteen years as its Conservation and Customer Service Field (CSSF) manager and served as interim general manager. Other management changes around this time included Leslie Strohm selected as Finance/Business Manager and Shelley Flock as CCSF Manager.

March 2016 - District completed its feasibility study for a groundwater replenishment project and subsequently initiated an environmental review and naming the project Pure Water Soquel. Other similar projects in California are being proposed, such as Pure Water Monterey and Pure Water San Diego, which would use purification treatment processes similar to Orange County's Groundwater Replenishment Project (which has been in operation since the mid-1970s). Scoping of the Pure Water Soquel draft EIR began in November 2016.

April 2016 - We redesigned our customer billing statements and migrated to a new bill printing program. The new bills make it easier for customers to identify significant changes in their water use and include a graph showing consumption over the previous 12 months compared to consumption the prior year. Residential customer bills also include a comparison chart of household consumption to that of homes with a range of 1 to 6 occupants, as well as an efficient guideline of 50 gallons per person per day.

May 2016 - District resumed its Water Main Flushing and Cleaning Program with the No-Des filtering system that creates a closed-looped to eliminate water waste during the flushing process. The District's flushing program had been on hold for three years due to the water shortage challenges from drought and groundwater overdraft. This waste-free system was purchased using developer fees collected from the Water Demand Offset Program.

July 2016 - Hit an all-time 12-month high of approximately 220,000 square feet of turf removal thanks to District customers participating in the turf replacement rebate program. This represented about a 20% increase in square footage of turf removed over the prior 12 month period.

August 2016 - The Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency (MGA) was identified by the State of California as the exclusive groundwater sustainability agency for the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin. The 11-member GSA, comprised of representatives from the District, Central Water District, the City of Santa Cruz, County of Santa Cruz, and private well owners, is responsible for achieving groundwater sustainability by 2040.

November 2016 - Rachél Lather was re-elected to serve the Board for a 2-year term through 2018. She joins Dr. Bruce Daniels and Dr. Tom LaHue who both ran unopposed in this election and will serve another 4-year term through 2020.

November 2016 - The District was presented the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award by the Government Finance Officers Association for our annual fiscal year 2016 to 2017 budget. To receive this award, an agency must publish a budget document that meets program criteria as a policy document, as an operations guide, as a financial plan, and as a communications device.

November 2016 - District adopted changes to the Water Demand Offset (WDO) Program that mandates development project applicants, requiring new or expanded water service, to offset two times the amount of water they are expected to use. Beginning in December 2016, WDO fees are used by the District to fund a $300 toilet rebate and other long-term conservation projects.

December 2016 - District completed the drilling and development of the Granite Way Well in Aptos. This well is part of the District's Well Master Plan, which is aimed at moving more wells inland and redistributing pumping to slow seawater intrusion. Thank you to neighbors in the area who were inconvenienced during the temporary period of 24-hour drilling!

Other activities of special note for our operations and maintenance crews in 2016 include bringing the Aptos Jr. High Replacement Well online with treatment, repairing mains and service leaks in a timely manner to reduce water waste and restore water reliability, and collecting and testing almost 1,600 water samples to ensure high-quality, safe water is served to our customers.

In 2016, we also said goodbye to Page Applegate, our friendly and caring Customer Service Field Worker II, who retired after 14 years of dedicated service.

As we embark on 2017, there are numerous projects and actions that we're undertaking for our community -and collaboratively - with our community. The District Staff and Board will be guided by our primary organizational goals:

  • Water Resource Management and Sustainability: Implementing sustainable and environmentally protective solutions to meet the water supply needs of our customers and the community.
  • Infrastructure and Delivery: Maintaining a reliable water infrastructure and delivery of high-quality, safe water.
  • Community Engagement and Trust: Establishing and fostering excellent relationships and communication with our customers, key stakeholders, and the community to build trust in our agency.
  • Fiscal Responsibility: Ensuring fiscal responsibility.
  • Customer Service: Providing exceptional customer service.
  • Workforce and Organizational Excellence: Expanding employee development, maintaining workforce excellence, and supporting strong board governance.

As always, 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 at or call 831-475-8501, ext. 153 for more information.