When most people think of the Soquel Creek Water District, they probably think of pipes, people in hard hats, and water being pumped up out of the ground, treated, and delivered to their faucets, because that is the side of our organization they see out in the community, and we do, in fact, have many dedicated construction and maintenance workers who build and maintain those systems on a daily basis to ensure that high-quality water is reliably delivered to your homes and businesses each and every day.
A significant amount of the District's efforts, however, occur out of sight, inside a nondescript, single-story, brick building on Soquel Drive. It is there that customer service personnel, engineers, planners, accountants, and elected representatives work on a wide variety of tasks, such as processing payments; assisting customers with billing questions and rebate applications; and studying, evaluating, and discussing our natural systems. Presently, much of this work revolves around helping customers save water and obtaining additional water supplies to help solve the long-term water shortage issue.
These essential functions of our organization involve: consulting with technical experts; soliciting community input; creating strategic plans; designing projects; and evaluating the technical, environmental, economic, and political feasibility of all aspects of water treatment and delivery. The delivery of life's most precious resource tends to be much more laborious than glorious.
With all of those activities taking place, it is easy to forget to pause and take stock of what we have been able to accomplish along the way. So, in order to highlight some of those accomplishments, here is a list of a few of the important things that came about as a result of our (and your) hard work in 2015. Here's to what we were able to do last year, and to doing even more in 2016!
Top 2015 Accomplishments
- Customers significantly exceeded the State's demand reduction target of 8%, ending up at a cumulative reduction of 28% compared to 2013. This was primarily accomplished through voluntary measures (e.g., increased conservation outreach, home and business water-wise surveys, rebates, WaterSmart Home Water Reports, etc.) coupled with continued water waste enforcement.
- Developed an action-oriented Community Water Plan based on community input. This long-range plan serves as the District's roadmap to meet our goal of sustainability by 2040.
- Completed construction of the new O'Neill Ranch well, treatment plant, and intertie (with the City of Santa Cruz) as part of our Well Master Plan.
- Completed construction of two new pump stations to facilitate the movement of potable water between service areas and increase overall system reliability and flexibility.
- Started, and now have nearly completed, a feasibility study on groundwater replenishment with advanced purification of recycled water. The next step will be the launch of the environmental impact report (EIR) phase of the project.
- Commissioned the first permitted hexavalent chromium treatment facility (for drinking water) in the state, reducing concentrations to well below new state maximum contaminant level (MCL) requirements. Staff also secured a full-scale hexavalent chromium removal equipment procurement contract for a facility that is expected to come online in 2017.
- Developed a Cooperative Water Transfer Agreement with the City of Santa Cruz, as well as a 5-year pilot study/water transfer agreement through an intertie at our O'Neill Ranch facility. The CEQA project comment period closed on January 9, and we received no comments, so water should flow to us in February.
- Developed a Cooperative Working Agreement with the County Sanitation Department to lay the groundwork for potential future recharge and/or recycled water projects.
- Soquel Creek Water District and Central Water District expanded a working group to include the City and County of Santa Cruz and three private well owner representatives, then worked together with those organizations and representatives to form a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) called the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency (SCMCGA), which will apply to become the basin's Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA), which is mandated by law.