SOQUEL — Soquel Creek Water District received notice earlier this month from the State Water Resources Control Board that its Concept Proposal for a significant State grant was accepted and the District has been invited to submit a formal proposal.
In August 2018, the District submitted the initial Concept Proposal for funding to support its proposed Groundwater Replenishment and Seawater Intrusion Prevention Project (known as Pure Water Soquel) through the State Groundwater Grant Program.
The District can now submit a formal proposal which would provide up to $50 million toward that project. The State already provided a $2 million planning grant for the project, thus this next opportunity would build and invest upon that effort.
“We’re very excited and grateful to receive this additional opportunity, it confirms we’re on the right track towards solving our groundwater shortage issue” said District General Manager Ron Duncan. “We’re a small community agency with a big challenge and thus are seeking a significant amount of funding. If we’re successful, this would really help the rate payers and customers throughout our service area as we move forward with preventing further seawater intrusion from ruining our only water supply.”
Groundwater is the District’s sole source of water supply for its customers, and the underground aquifer on which it depends is in a state of critical shortage due to historic over-drafting. The resulting seawater intrusion threatens the community’s entire water supply. The proposed Groundwater Replenishment and Seawater Intrusion Prevention Project would recharge the groundwater aquifer with ultra-clean water — providing an enhanced, sustainable water supply while creating a barrier to seawater intrusion.
To obtain this water, the project would recycle treated wastewater from the City of Santa Cruz and put it through a state-of-the-art advanced water purification process. This project, along with water conservation, surface water transfer, and other tools, are part of an overall strategy for addressing the water shortage, as outlined in the District’s Community Water Plan.
“Preserving and protecting the aquifer for future generations is paramount” said Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend “This grant is a significant opportunity to provide for a safe and stable water supply moving forward.”
If the project’s EIR is certified and the project is approved, the grant could offer a substantial jump-start for this project which could address meeting the state’s mandate of basin sustainability by 2040. Once complete, the project could serve as a model to other coastal cities—both large and small—that are faced with seawater intrusion into their groundwater supplies.
The formal grant application is due to the State Water Resources Control Board on February 18, 2019. A decision on the grant award is expected in mid-2019.
The Soquel Creek Water District is a local, not-for-profit government agency that provides water resource management within its service area to deliver a safe and reliable supply of high-quality water to meet present and future needs in an environmentally sensitive and economically responsible way.