By Carla Christensen, President, Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors
I am honored to welcome a New Year and begin my first term as Board President of the Soquel Creek Water District. We enter 2023 with a list of goals and objectives that are consistent with the District’s mission to provide our community with a safe, high-quality, reliable, and sustainable water supply.
I will focus on four areas summarized in an acronym: CARE – Collaboration, Adaptation, Resiliency, Economics/Environment. CARE embodies the principles behind the mission of the Soquel Creek Water District and its Board: to truly care about our community, our water, our economy, and our environment.
Collaboration with our neighboring communities and agencies remains a fundamental priority for 2023, and we will continue to work together on a variety of regional water-supply topics such as water transfers and recycled water. The District is among the four agency members of the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency charged with managing the groundwater Basin to ensure that water users have access to a safe and reliable groundwater supply that meets current and future Basin demand. The District understands that regional solutions are critical to managing the health of the entire Basin, not just the portion that lies within the District’s boundaries.
We appreciate the continued collaboration with the City and County of Santa Cruz, City of Capitola, Central Water District, local community groups and with our customers!
The Pure Water Soquel (PWS) project, which will protect our water supply from seawater intrusion and allow us to replenish the aquifer with purified recycled water, is currently under construction, and is a prime example of how the District is adapting. Once the project is complete and operational, the District will transform from being solely a water district that extracts groundwater to serve its customers into a full-fledged groundwater replenishment district that will also be putting purified water back into the basin.
Climate change is testing everyone’s resiliency, and the District is committed to maintaining its efforts to adapt to climate change and its impacts. As a water provider, preparing for drought and long-term water supply shortages is one of our top priorities. When completed, PWS will provide a reliable, sustainable, and drought-resilient water supply that prepares our community for the impacts of a changing climate.
The PWS project, one of our key resiliency projects, was designed with the capability to double its purified water production capacity from its initial 1.3 million gallons per day to 2.6 million gallons per day in the future, should the need for additional water and suitable economic conditions exist. The District has and will continue to discuss potential expansion needs with the Cities of Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley and the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency. In 2022, a state grant was awarded to our region to conduct a study on the feasibility of expansion of the PWS project, and the study may begin as soon as this year.
I believe that we can be good stewards of the environment and also support a healthy, vibrant economy. Our District’s mission includes a commitment to operating in an “environmentally sensitive and economically responsible manner.” Our Board fully supports transparency and community involvement. This year we will once again be appointing a Rate Committee made up of interested customers to understand the rate-setting process and make recommendations on upcoming water rate adjustments. I was the chair of the Rate Committee during the District’s last rate-setting process, and the experience educated me and my fellow committee members about all the factors that go into the rate-setting process and reinforced my understanding of the value of water to our community. We will strive to help ratepayers understand how their money is being spent and the work that District staff carries out every day to ensure that safe, reliable drinking water is being delivered.
I would like to acknowledge the community for its support and thank you for your confidence in the direction we are headed as a Board and District.
Finally, please remember that I CARE deeply and personally about water and our community. I am proud to be part of your Board of Directors and optimistic that the New Year will provide all of us – customers, staff, and community-at-large and your Board – with opportunities to work together in meaningful ways to provide a safe and reliable water supply that supports our environment and economy. Thank you, and best wishes for safe and abundant water in 2023!
Carla Christensen has been on the SqCWD Board of Directors since 2014. She is a resident of Capitola and is a retired environmental scientist. Carla has been an active community member in the mid-county area for over 25 years and has served on the Board of the Capitola Junior Guard program for more than a decade, and was a founding member of the Friends of Soquel Creek.