For Immediate Release
August 24, 2022
Melanie Mow Schumacher, Special Projects-Communications Manager
Phone: 831-475-8501, ext. 153
Email Melanie Mow Schumacher
Soquel Creek Water District Awarded $21 Million Federal “WaterSMART” Grant for Pure Water Soquel
Funding benefits District customers and other users of Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin
Soquel, CA (August 24, 2022) - The Soquel Creek Water District is pleased to announce that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation awarded the Pure Water Soquel Groundwater Replenishment and Seawater Intrusion Prevention Project a grant for $20,925,000. This funding is part of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the planning, design, and construction of water reuse projects.
Grants like this one are significant for the customers and communities served by the District, both in the near term and for generations to come. The funding will help offset costs of the Pure Water Soquel project, which is the primary, most cost-effective, and efficient means of creating a sustainable alternative water supply to address the critically over-drafted Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin.
“The District continues to successfully gain remarkable levels of support for Pure Water Soquel from funding agencies, aimed at providing a drought-resilient, clean, and sustainable water supply and bringing ever-greater benefit to our ratepayers,” said Dr. Tom LaHue, President of the District’s Board of Directors. “We are so grateful for this $21 million grant which, when added to the prior $9 million grant awarded under this grant program, represents a benefit of $2,000 per each of our 15,000 customer accounts. Many thanks to the Bureau of Reclamation for its strong support for preventing further seawater contamination and increasing water reuse in our region.”
The federal Title XVI program identifies and investigates opportunities to reclaim and reuse wastewaters and impaired ground and surface water in the 17 western states and Hawaii. Title XVI includes funding for the planning, design, and construction of water recycling and reuse projects in partnership with local government entities. This month a total of over $310 million dollars was awarded to support 25 projects throughout the west as part of the WaterSMART: Title XVI WIIN Act Water Reclamation and Reuse Projects program. Along the central coast of California alone, approximately $54 million in funding was provided for projects in Pismo Beach, Morro Bay, and Monterey, in addition to the grant for Pure Water Soquel.
About the grant, Senator Dianne Feinstein noted, “The Bureau of Reclamation grant to the Soquel Creek Water District provides much-needed funds to bolster groundwater replenishment and seawater intrusion prevention in Santa Cruz County. The water district, which serves 40,000 Californians, is entirely dependent on groundwater. We must do everything in our power to prevent further saltwater contamination and provide a reliable water supply for these Californians. Especially given the worsening drought, this $21 million grant will go a long way toward protecting the District’s water supply and completing the Pure Water Soquel recycling project.”
In addition to this grant, the District has received funding support for Pure Water Soquel from both the U.S. government and the State of California, including a $50 million State Proposition 1 Groundwater Implementation Grant; a $9 million grant from the Bureau of Reclamation; a $2 million State planning grant; and low-interest loans through the State Seawater Intrusion Control Loan Program and from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program.
“As the Central Coast continues to feel the effects of the megadrought in the American West, the federal government can play its part by ensuring the proper funding for agreed-upon projects at the local level to save and secure more sources of precious water. An important part of the solution are our local water district projects that already recycle, reclaim, reuse, and replenish our water supply,” said U.S. Representative Jimmy Panetta. “The more than $20 million in federal funding that we just got from the bipartisan IIJA for the Soquel Creek Water District will not only help bolster the productivity of the project but also demonstrates the will of the federal government to help us buoy our drought resiliency and water sustainability on the Central Coast.”
Pure Water Soquel will take treated, recycled municipal wastewater and use advanced water treatment methods to produce up to 1,500 acre-feet of purified water annually. This purified water will then be sent to seawater intrusion prevention/recharge wells to replenish the critically over-drafted Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin. This basin, which is the sole source of supply for District customers and other residents in the mid-county, is designated by the State of California as one of 21 basins throughout the state that is critically over-drafted. This over-drafting is causing seawater contamination of the groundwater within the groundwater basin and along the entire coastline. Recharging the basin with purified, clean, safe water will create and maintain a barrier against seawater contamination and provide a high-quality, reliable, and sustainable water supply for generations to come in the Santa Cruz Mid-County region.
The Pure Water Soquel project is currently under construction, including an advanced water purification center, wastewater recycling equipment at the Santa Cruz Wastewater Treatment Facility, eight miles of pipelines, and three seawater intrusion prevention wells. The District anticipates that various portions of the Pure Water Soquel Project will complete construction in 2023 - 2024.
About Soquel Creek Water District:
The Soquel Creek Water District is a not-for-profit 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. The District’s website is www.soquelcreekwater.org.