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Water Wisdom

Posted on: October 3, 2022

Pure Water Soquel in International Online Series of Mini-Documentaries About Water - October 2022

We’re thrilled to let you know that a mini-documentary focusing on the District’s Pure Water Soquel project was released last month as part of the international online series, “Beneath the Surface: The Journey of Water.” The film, produced for us by BBC Storyworks, is part of this human-centric series presented by the International Water Association. The series was launched on September 19, 2022, and Pure Water Soquel is proud to be one of just 16 from throughout the world, including Spain, Uganda, Brazil, Scotland, Sweden, Portugal, and other countries, and one of only two from the United States. View the Pure Water Soquel film at at, and the entire series can be viewed at

The mini-documentary tells our story of the severe drinking water challenges faced in the California mid-coast region, and how the District, its community, and its partners determined that replenishing groundwater with advanced purified recycled water was the most productive path toward a sustainable water supply. It also highlights the overarching critical role that water plays in every community, and how recycled water must be part of the solution for a secure water future – for people, and the environment.

The series “Beneath the Surface: The Journey of Water” presents films that profile the innovations and innovators who are advancing positive change toward water sustainability. Pure Water Soquel will take recycled wastewater from the Santa Cruz Wastewater Treatment Facility, purify it to drinking water standards at a new state-of-the-art water purification center, and then pump it underground to replenish the groundwater basin. This process will raise the groundwater to protective levels to prevent further seawater contamination and contribute to the region’s drinking water supply. By recycling water for beneficial reuse, Pure Water Soquel will also reduce ocean discharge of treated wastewater to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. 

The short films in this series describe water-related projects from throughout the world, and encompass a wide variety of socio-economic conditions. But they all share the common thread of highlighting game-changing technological advances and ways communities are coming together to protect this precious resource. For example, one is the story of a village in Uganda where people walked hours each day to access clean water, often in difficult conditions and taking much of their day away from school, family, and community. Through extensive partnerships and collaboration, a second water treatment plant in the region was built which – for the first time – allowed water to come directly to outlying villages, securing a clean, affordable water source and giving the people there a greater opportunity to be a thriving community. Another short film focuses on remarkable new technology being developed in Denmark that utilizes the natural protein “aquaporin” as part of the water treatment process. This protein, present in the membrane of all living cells, is extremely efficient in allowing molecules of water – and only water – in and out of a cell, leaving behind all other organic and inorganic materials. This concept of creating technology through “bio-mimicry” holds great promise for water treatment.

Filming and production for the Pure Water Soquel footage began in March 2022, and includes interviews with Melanie Mow Schumacher, Pure Water Soquel’s Program Director; Cindy Wallis-Lage, Black and Veatch’s Executive Director for Sustainability and Resilience; and Bridget Hoover, the Water Quality Protection Program Director for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.  

As part of this international series of mini-documentaries, the District’s Pure Water Soquel project is gaining global attention and helping to raise awareness of our local groundwater challenges with seawater intrusion that are also faced by many other regions around the world. Through this film people can gain a further understanding of how important a project like Pure Water Soquel is to a sustainable water future and in combating seawater intrusion into the groundwater supply. 

The mini-documentary also points to our network of partners that are crucial to Pure Water Soquel’s success. That network includes the City of Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Management Agency and its member organizations, and state and federal officials and agencies which have provided generous grants and low-interest loans to help build Pure Water Soquel. 

The Pure Water Soquel water purification center is currently under construction by Black & Veatch Construction, Inc. and anticipated to be operational in 2024. 

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