Surface Water Transfers

What is it? 

Surface water transfers would include taking excess winter river water that is treated at the  City of Santa Cruz Graham Hill Treatment Plant and delivering it to the Soquel Creek Water District pipeline system. There are currently two options being discussed:

  1. Short Term Pilot Project (2015–2020): Purchasing a small amount of excess water from the City of Santa Cruz (no water rights issues).  This is currently underway.  For more information, click here.
  2. Long Term Project: Potentially transferring a larger volume of excess treated winter water from the City of Santa Cruz (requires water rights to be obtained and/or changed and an Environmental Impact Report (EIR)).  This has not been initiated as the City is early in the planning process and currently conducting feasibility analysis, which the City anticipates completing by 2020.

What are the current activities? 

The District has been looking into this for sometime and has actively participated in studies with the County of Santa Cruz, City of Santa Cruz, and Scotts Valley Water District through an IRWM funded study.  Limitations with this type of project include the reliable amount of water that could be available, since it would only be during the wintertime, and the difficulties with obtaining water rights issues; however, the District continues to be interested in evaluating surface water options to augment other supplies and address part of the water shortage problem.

Long-Term Project

A water transfer project is dependent on collaboration with the City of Santa Cruz as Soquel Creek Water District doesn't own any water rights for surface water or operate/maintain a surface water treatment facility.  We are continuing to work with the City as they evaluate how they can proceed with surface water maximization to meet their drought needs and how much water would be available for other neighboring agencies, such as Scotts Valley Water District and Soquel Creek Water District.  The City will be completing their feasibility and proof-of-concept analysis, which will be completed in 2020.  Below are useful links related to water transfers:

Pilot Project

  • What are we evaluating with the pilot project?
  • Water Quality Testing, Phase 2 - Isolated Zone to receive surface water began December 3, 2018 and concluded in April 2019.  Testing will resume again in late Fall 2019.  For information,click here. For press release, click here.  
  • Water Quality Testing, Phase 1 - Benchtop Testing was completed in mid-2018.  A presentation by Black and Veatch was presented to the Board on July 17, 2018.  To access information:  Staff Memo, Powerpoint Presentation, and Technical Memo.
  • The City of Santa Cruz Water Department offered to sell excess winter river water (Pre-1914 water rights) to the District, and the agreement was finalized in September 2015 and amended in July 2016. To read the Cooperative Water Transfer and Purchase Agreement, click HERE.  
  • Initial Study-Negative Declaration (January 2016).
  • Evaluating water quality impacts with purchasing surface water from the City of Santa Cruz - Tech Memo by Black and Veatch (June 2016)
  • Flushing our District pipelines and Amending our DDW Permit