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. We are currently collaborating with the City of Santa Cruz on a 5-year pilot project (2015-2020) whereby the District is purchasing a small amount of excess water in the winter to evaluate water quality conditions when blending surface water and groundwater.  For more information click here.

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.  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 the required water rights and ensuring meeting environmental requirements (such as fishflow and protecting critical habitat); however, the District continues to be interested in evaluating surface water options to augment other supplies and address part of the water shortage problem.

Did you know.....?

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 to help provide information to misinformation and perspectives that we often hear in the community. From the City of Santa Cruz officials:

  • There is not enough surface water to reliably solve both the City’s need for a drought supply and reliably meet Soquel’s need for water to create and maintain a seawater intrusion barrier in its service area. Click here
  • That surface water would not be cheaper than Pure Water Soquel.  Click here
  • That there are operational limitations with North Coast Sources.  Click here

Since these limitations exist, the District continues to develop the Pure Water Soquel Project and is interested in the potential of purchasing a small amount of surface water (following successful completion of the pilot testing and if made available by the City) to diversify our water portfolio and recognizes that surface water alone will not solve our challenge of providing water reliability to our customers and environmental stewardship to the groundwater basin.  


Pilot Project