Well, all of our calendars are now out of "the teens" and into "the twenties." What a milestone!
Here at the Soquel Creek Water District we enter 2020 with a great sense of accomplishment and achievement - and a strong resolve to continue our determination and hard work in providing a clean, safe, sustainable water supply for the community we serve.
We achieved so much in the last year, and those successes have set the stage for even more great things in 2020. Here is a brief run-down of some of the District's key accomplishments of 2019:
- The District was awarded a $50 million grant from the State's Proposition 1 Groundwater Implementation Grant Program, for the Pure Water Soquel Groundwater Replenishment and Seawater Intrusion Prevention Project. At the same time, the State approved a $36 million very low interest (1.3%) loan through its Seawater Intrusion Control Loan Program, representing approximately $11 million in interest savings compared to original projections.
- These funds are in addition to another low-interest loan program we were accepted for from the Environmental Protection Agency. With significant funding now in place, Pure Water Soquel is on-track, with further design and pre-construction efforts in full swing for 2020!
- Speaking of Pure Water Soquel: the District recently prevailed in a court case challenging Pure Water Soquel's Environmental Impact Report (EIR) certification and project approval. In November, the court ruled in favor of the District, refuting each and every challenge raised, affirming that the District's EIR and the certification / adoption process were fully compliant with the California Environmental Quality Act.
- We were recognized by The Bay Area News Group as one of 85 Top Workplaces in 2019. This annual rating is based on employee feedback gathered through an anonymous, third-party survey measuring key aspects of workplace culture including organizational alignment, effective execution, and meaningful connection with employees. We're proud to have achieved this rating for the first time, and inspired to make the list again this year!
- The District was honored with the Transparency Certificate of Excellence from the Special District Leadership Foundation (SDLF), a state-wide nonprofit which provides professional certifications to special district officials and employees. This award - the District's third since 2015 - is in recognition of the District's outstanding transparency and good governance. Every two years, special districts must be re-accredited to demonstrate transparency is maintained.
- In addition to the Transparency Certification, District General Manager Ron Duncan received the SDLF's Special District Administrator Certification, which recognizes the knowledge, skills, and capabilities of professional special district administrators.
- The District and Santa Cruz County conducted groundwater recharge testing at two sites to investigate potential stormwater capture projects. This included soil sampling and periodic drilling to examine the potential use of drywells to capture stormwater runoff and filter it into the aquifer.
- The Surface Water Pilot Project was in full swing at the top of 2019 and again at the end of this year with the purchase of surplus surface (river) water from Santa Cruz as a supplemental water supply. This pilot project delivers water to certain areas of the District for a limited period of time, to evaluate water quality and physical operating system challenges, and analyze groundwater levels and operational aspects of such transfers.
- We held our fun, informative Water Wise Academy in the spring and fall, which offer community members the opportunity to gain a thorough understanding of how the District operates, learn about the various water issues affecting the region, tour the District's facilities, meet and talk with board members, staff, and other participants who care about water.
- A Seawater Intrusion Prevention Recharge Pilot Well was built on the Twin Lakes Church Property in Aptos to provide data on replenishment of the groundwater aquifer. Data collected will be used to determine recharge and extraction capacity and other information, with the goal informing a series of recharge wells to protect the groundwater basin and prevent further seawater intrusion.
We could not look back at 2019 without taking a moment to remember and honor the District's beloved "water princess," Vai Campbell, who lost her life along with 33 other people in the tragic Catalina boat fire in September. Vai is greatly missed by her family, her friends, and all of us here at the District who were so fortunate to have known and worked with her. She will not be forgotten.
Thank you to all our customers and community members who continue to cherish our endangered groundwater resources. We are #inthistogether with you to protect our basin from further seawater intrusion!
Happy New Year to all - we are ready for 2020, and beyond!