The Soquel Creek Water District is engaged in multiple approaches to combat over-drafting of the groundwater basin and seawater intrusion into our local water supply. It's important to remember that these severe water supply challenges affect everyone in our community - and we are all part of the solution. Over the next few months, this series of Water Wisdom columns will feature the viewpoints of local community members and organizations talking about the importance of creating and maintaining a sustainable water supply, as a community.
In Aptos High School's CTE (Career Technical Education) Video Production class, teacher Joel Domhoff strives to not only provide his students with some valuable experience and professional tools around creating videos, but also to help them connect with issues that are part of the "real world" beyond school corridors. For Joel, that includes a global perspective on the importance of water.
His interest in water issues was stoked in 2015 when he was approached to have his students participate in the Soquel Creek Water District's annual Public Service Announcement (PSA) contest. Joel realized that this was a prime opportunity to engage his students in learning about this critical issue, help them to gain the big picture about water, and raise their awareness of the need to protect and preserve our water supplies - locally, and globally.
"In a word, water is 'survival!'," says Joel. "From a global perspective, a lot of the world's problems revolve around water, water supplies, and lack of clean, safe water. Locally, we've learned that our drinking water supply is actually quite fragile, affected by droughts and over-drafting of the groundwater basin, which is allowing seawater contamination. I think it's critical that young people be aware of this, take it seriously, and really give thought to what it means for their future."
Joel's ambition in making sure his students are engaged in water issues is something the District fully agrees with and encourages. His involvement with the PSA contest gave his students a deeper insight into both the local water supply challenges we face, as well as the big picture of water issues worldwide.
"What the District is doing here in response to our critical water situation should serve as an example to other agencies where similar problems exist," says Joel. "Effective, forward-looking groundwater management, the Pure Water Soquel advanced water purification project, and all of their outreach efforts around water conservation and to raise awareness and build support - it's all very impressive!"
Joel notes that he feels the Pure Water Soquel project is a great idea and a worthy public investment in the future. "Some people have concerns about the fact that this will use treated wastewater that is purified and blended into the drinking water supply," he says. "But I think those concerns are based on fear and not understanding the process. The more education that's out there, the more people will accept and even embrace the concept. It's happening all over California - and I've learned that this is proven scientific technology, and the water will be completely clean, beyond state drinking water standards. I'm not worried about it!"
With his positive attitude, grasp of the severity of our local water supply issues, and ability to teach, Joel is well-positioned to help his students learn, understand, and take action to ensure a future with sustainable, clean water. The District’s own educational and outreach programs reflect much of Joel’s thinking on the subject - and in this case, we’re learning from him that the next generation is fast becoming aware that we’re all #InThisTogether, and that together we can achieve the steps necessary toward water reliability.