Posted on November 19th, 2019
For Immediate Release
November 19, 2019
Melanie Mow Schumacher, Special Projects-Communications Manager
Phone: 831-475-8501, ext. 153
Email Melanie Mow Schumacher
Soquel Creek Water District Awarded $50 Million Prop 1 State Grant for Pure Water Soquel
Additional $36 Million from State Seawater Intrusion Control Low-Interest Loan Program Also Approved
Soquel, CA (November 19, 2019) - The Soquel Creek Water District is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a State Proposition 1 Groundwater Implementation Grant in the amount of $50 million, for its Pure Water Soquel Groundwater Replenishment and Seawater Intrusion Prevention Project. The award was unanimously made at today's State Water Resources Control Board meeting in Sacramento.
This grant - which covers about half of the projected construction costs for the new Pure Water Soquel advanced water purification facility and distribution system - is enormously significant for the customers and community served by the District, both in the near-term and for generations to come. Pure Water Soquel is the primary, most cost-effective, and efficient means of creating a sustainable alternative water supply to address the critically over-drafted Mid-County Groundwater Basin. With this generous grant, the State is demonstrating its strong support for preventing further seawater contamination and increasing water reuse in our region and confirming its confidence in the District's ability to bring the project online.
"On behalf of the District and the community we serve, I want to thank the members of the State Water Resources Control Board for recognizing the value of the Pure Water Soquel Project in protecting our groundwater supply from seawater intrusion and providing our community with a safe, reliable, drought resistant water supply for future generations," said Dr. Tom LaHue, President of the District's Board of Directors. "Our staff worked diligently in applying for this substantial grant and their remarkable effort is to be commended. We also greatly appreciate the support of the people who live and work here and our staff, including local community members and organizations that collectively sent over 100 letters to the State Board supporting the Pure Water Soquel Project. This support means a lot and keeps us on track to move forward with the design and construction of this crucial project."
In addition to the $50 million grant, the State Board also approved a $36 million loan through its State Seawater Intrusion Control Loan Program at a 1.3% interest rate. This lower interest rate will save the District customers over $11 million in interest payments, compared to original projections. With both this loan and the grant funds helping to offset a large portion of the local costs for this project, the District is hopeful that future necessary water rate adjustments can be moderated for its ratepayers.
Pure Water Soquel will take treated, recycled municipal wastewater and use advanced water treatment methods to produce 1,500 acre-feet of purified water annually. This purified water will then be sent to seawater intrusion prevention/recharge wells to replenish the critically over-drafted groundwater basin. The Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin, which is the sole source of supply for District customers and other residents in the mid-county, is designated by the State of California as one of 21 basins throughout the state that is critically over-drafted. Recharging the basin with purified, clean, safe water, will create and maintain a barrier against seawater contamination, and provide a safe, high-quality, reliable, and sustainable water supply for generations to come in the Santa Cruz Mid-County region.
Beyond a shortage of drinking water for the community, the over-drafting has resulted in seawater contamination of the basin, verified by water quality sampling and numerous studies conducted by the District and the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency. Those studies show that seawater intrusion is significant within the groundwater basin and along the entire coastline, with an imminent threat of seawater contaminating the District's water production wells, in addition to wells used by other agencies and many private well owners. This makes the Pure Water Soquel project critically-important and extremely time-sensitive.
Awards of this grant and loan demonstrate the State's support for utilizing the latest water reuse technology, its commitment to investing in our local community, and its determination to help the District continue on course toward a sustainable water future.
The State also issued a press release today announcing that 13 grants totaling $367 million have been approved since July and highlighting today's approval of the Pure Water Soquel project. View the Press Release (PDF).
Photo following SWRCB approval for project funding at the November 19th Board Meeting in Sacramento. Included in this photo are the State Water Resources Control Board Members (Back Row: Laurel Firestone, Tam M. Dudoc, Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel, Vice-Chair Dorene D'Adamo, and Sean Maguire), Soquel Creek Water District Representatives, District partners and supporters, and the Division of Financial Assistance Staff.