With unlimited access to information and opinions in today's modern world, it's often hard to discern what is factual and what isn't. With my busy schedule as a working Mom, juggling family life, my son's sports schedule, and of course my hobbies too, I find that I seem to catch soundbites of current events and issues, and it's often the more scintillating ones that get stuck in my head.
In embracing Soquel Creek Water District's core values of being open and transparent, and maintaining a website full of documents and information, the amount of information offered can be voluminous - and we don't always provide information as succinctly or soundbite-y as we could. Thus, for this month, I'm going to distill some of the main points or facts that hopefully can get stuck in your head and you may remember when you're having a lively discussion about Mid-County water issues. Are you ready? Okay, here goes...
- Our shared groundwater basin is critically overdrafted and the only source of water supply, including for all the customers of Soquel Creek Water District and most mid-county residents.
- Seawater contamination is occurring in our groundwater basin, polluting our groundwater. Preventing seawater from moving further inland is a critical task to protect the public and private wells that rely on that water source.
- City of Santa Cruz water officials have publicly stated: "There is not enough surface water to reliably meet both the City of Santa Cruz's needs and the needs that Soquel Creek has to protect the aquifer in their service area from seawater intrusion." While you may have heard misinformation about this, Santa Cruz has done extensive modeling and is not in a position to guarantee sufficient water to our agency to replace water provided by our Pure Water Soquel project.
- The Pure Water Soquel project, which will use purified recycled water to create a seawater intrusion barrier in our groundwater basin, is very similar to successful projects already in operation. Orange County's Groundwater Replenishment System has produced over 275 billion gallons of purified water to recharge its groundwater basin. And just down the coast, Pure Water Monterey is being built and expected to come online this year!
- Purified recycled water is clean and safe. The science is in, and the facts are clear that purified recycled water is safe. State and federal regulations ensure that this is the case. Water is purified through a three-step, state-of-the-art process of microfiltration, reverse osmosis, and advanced oxidation with UV light.
- No raw sewage at the purification facility. Pure Water Soquel is not a wastewater treatment plant. It will divert 25% of the average 8 million gallons a day of treated wastewater sent out to the Monterey Bay and purify it to create a drought-proof water supply that is regulated by the state to meet stringent water quality standards. This purified water is actually proven to be cleaner than treated groundwater and surface water sources.
- New facility will fit with surroundings. The District will ensure that the new Pure Water Soquel advanced water purification facility will fit in with the buildings and surroundings in the area where it will be built. The purification facility will not generate odors, traffic, or noise when operating.
- Grant money helps lower the project cost of Pure Water Soquel. We are currently applying for state and federal grants that are specific to recycled water projects and projects that prevent seawater contamination. If awarded, we could reduce the project's capital costs by up to half.
- We must do something. No action is not the answer. The District and our community members have spent years evaluating the Pure Water Soquel project which is poised to move forward with coming online in 2022. If we don't act now to protect our groundwater supply, the risk of further salt water contamination is imminent.
- #inthistogether. This is our mantra and I hope it can become yours too! Our community is coming together to prevent our groundwater basin from further seawater contamination. Our water is groundwater…. Together, let's protect it.
As always, if you have any questions about this month's topic or anything else related to Soquel Creek Water District, feel free to email Melanie Mow Schumacher or call 831-475-8501, ext. 153.