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Posted on: November 29, 2018

Santa Cruz Water Department & the District Initiate Water Purchase with Joint Pilot Project

For Immediate Release 

November 29, 2018


Eileen Cross, Community Relations Specialist
City of Santa Cruz, 831.676.7090

Melanie Mow Schumacher, Special Projects-Communications Manager
Soquel Creek Water District, 831.475.8501 x153

Santa Cruz Water Department & Soquel Creek Water District Initiate Water Purchase with Joint Pilot Project

Soquel, CA (November 29, 2018) –The City of Santa Cruz Water Department and the Soquel Creek Water District announced today that the pilot project consisting of the District purchasing a limited amount of surface water from the City received final approval from the State and is on schedule to begin around November 26, 2018 and continue through April 30, 2019. This step in the pilot project follows significant study and analyses of the various elements involved in blending the City's surface water with the District's groundwater. Last year, the two agencies conducted laboratory testing which demonstrated initial compatibility with respect to water quality and now both agencies are proceeding with evaluating actual transfers in practice.

During this upcoming winter period, the treated surface water for this pilot program will be delivered to a limited area of the District to evaluate and monitor water quality within the pipeline system and assess any issues which may arise. The District is currently paying the City a discounted rate of $1,000 per million gallons ($325 per acre foot) of water during the pilot project to enable this study to proceed and other issues that need to be resolved; however, it should not necessarily be assumed that this cost will go beyond the pilot study terms. This pilot project also supports ongoing exploration of a longer term and larger surface water purchase and/or transfer concept between the two agencies.

"We are delighted to be able to test water transfers in practice," said Rosemary Menard, City of Santa Cruz Water Director. "Our collaboration with the District has enabled both agencies to implement important pieces of our respective water supply plans."

Added Ron Duncan, General Manager of Soquel Creek Water District, "While this small-scale water purchase won't solve our ongoing supply challenges, the District values the importance of diversification and our water portfolio may involve a combination of supply options to ensure a healthy, sustainable, and reliable groundwater supply for our community."

Surface water transfers are one part of the District's Community Water Plan, and one of the five approved supply recommendations made by Santa Cruz' Water Supply Advisory Committee. The City and the District entered into a five-year agreement in August 2016, to study both the feasibility and practice of purchasing surplus winter water.

The pilot project agreement includes several conditions which must be in place for Santa Cruz to send surplus winter water to the District. For example, Loch Lomond Reservoir must be full or projected to be full by April 1; the City must have sufficient water available to support threatened fish species; and the entire operation must be in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act.

About Santa Cruz Water Department

The Santa Cruz Water Department serves water to 98,000 customers, processes 6-8 million gallons of water per day, manages 4,000 acres of watershed lands, oversees 300 miles of distribution lines, runs a state-certified water quality laboratory, and provides summertime recreation activities at the Loch Lomond Reservoir and Recreation Area.

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