Groundwater Emergency

The Soquel Creek Water District Board declared a Groundwater Emergency at their June 17, 2014 meeting.

The primary measures and actions under a groundwater emergency include issuance of a formal request to the County of Santa Cruz and surrounding water providers (including Central Water District and the City of Santa Cruz) to discuss what actions can be taken within their respective jurisdictions to help protect the groundwater basin.

The issue of a possible water service moratorium was under consideration at the same meeting on June 17th; however, the board did not vote on this. Instead, the Board has modified the Water Demand Offset (WDO) Program with an program whereby developers would pay into a fund to pay for new projects that would reduce water use within the District's service area and only allow new development to occur if developers offset their anticipated use by 200%. The rate at which developers will pay for the WDO offsets is $55,000 per acre-ft.

Resolution 14-22 Declaring a Groundwater Emergency


WHEREAS, groundwater located in the Soquel-Aptos area is currently the only source of water supply for the customers of Soquel Creek Water District; and

WHEREAS, other public and private water suppliers and many private wells also depend on local groundwater resources; and

WHEREAS, a peer review panel of qualified groundwater hydrologists have concurred with the District’s groundwater hydrologist that the cumulative effects of pumping more groundwater than is annually replenished through rainfall has resulted in a serious state of overdraft of our local aquifers; and

WHEREAS, these overdrafted coastal aquifers are imminently threatened by contamination from seawater intrusion; and

WHEREAS, seawater intrusion has been detected in Pleasure Point, Aptos, and La Selva Beach  by the coastal monitoring well network maintained within the Soquel-Aptos groundwater management area; and

WHEREAS, groundwater overdraft is a long-term shortage issue, dissimilar to drought conditions that are seasonal and typically short-term; and

WHEREAS, Soquel Creek Water District is committed to ensuring that our local  groundwater resources are sustained and protected for current and future water supply reliability; and

WHEREAS, public awareness and education about groundwater is critical to succeeding in protecting this invaluable resource; and

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Directors of Soquel Creek Water District that the District hereby declares a groundwater emergency and directs the General Manager or her designee to address the emergency with the following actions and measures as recommended in the District’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan for a Groundwater Emergency (Section 5 of the District’s 2010 Urban Water Management Plan):

  • Declare a Stage 3 Water Shortage Emergency
  • Request actions and measures the County of Santa Cruz and other neighboring water agencies can undertake to address the overdrafted groundwater basin conditions within their respective jurisdictions
  • Continue to collaborate with all basin pumpers as part of the Groundwater Stakeholder Advisory Committee efforts that are underway
  • Continue to implement the Soquel-Aptos Groundwater Management Plan in collaboration with partner agencies under the Joint Exercise of Powers Agreement
  • Continue to pursue development of a Groundwater Model for the Soquel-Aptos area
  • Continue to pursue a better understanding of the freshwater-seawater interface
  • Continue to pursue alternative water sources to aid in restoring the groundwater basin with either direct or in-lieu recharge benefits

PASSED AND ADOPTED by the Board of Directors of the SOQUEL CREEK WATER DISTRICT this 17th day of June 2014