Tag Archive for 'Santa Cruz water supply'

Santa Cruz: Soquel Creek Water District water emergencies declared

Photo retrieved from: www.watersavingtips.org

“The Soquel Creek Water District’s board of directors moved from voluntary water cutbacks to enacting a Stage 3 Water Shortage Emergency without significant discussion, other than about how long the status would continue. A groundwater emergency declaration was also approved, with no public comment.

The evening’s two votes were a marked contrast to the board’s June 3 meeting, where an estimated 400 people attended and 40 people spoke at the meeting.

Proposed modifications to the district’s existing Water Demands Offsets Program, however, did raise some protest from several developers. The existing program allows developers to offset the increased burden of water use arising with new developments with various water-conversation methods, often replacement of residential toilets with low-flow models.

The program remodel, still under discussion by the board late Tuesday, came after a June 3 proposal to institute a moratorium on new water hookups was set aside.

Speaker John Swift raised concerns that requiring new developments, particularly on the smaller side, to pay as much as a $55,000 per acre feet water usage offset fee to go toward water conservation efforts could cause a “chilling effect” on new developments that could not afford the additional cost.

“You ought to look at the economic impact before you make a decision,” Swift said.

District staff said it would speak with Swift to determine what that financial chilling point might be, while board members said an alternative might be going back to the moratorium idea.

Upcoming changes for water district customers include enacting residential water budgets by early 2015 and emergency rate increases of 16 percent, in effect July 1, to cover revenue losses from reduced water sales.

Water conservation concerns are heightened for the district because its currently obtains water from an underground basin, from which district customers are using more  annually than is naturally replaced through waterfall. If water use is not reduced, the district’s drinking wells are at risk of seawater contamination, according to officials. The district is also in the midst of researching alternative water supply sources, and has taken recent conservation steps as a stop-gap measure.”

Read more: Santa Cruz Sentinel


Water Divide

Santa Cruz. Retrieved from: www.goodtimessantacruz.com

“Neighboring water districts are required by the state’s Urban Water Management Planning Act to coordinate these plans, which Goddard says has resulted in some other shared ventures. One proposal explored in the city’s UWMP is a potential transfer between Santa Cruz and the Scotts Valley Water District, in which Scotts Valley would hand over a relatively small amount of recycled water (30 to 50 million gallons, or about just 1.5 percent of the city’s summer supply) for the city to use on Pasatiempo Golf Course. Santa Cruz would return the same amount, but of potable water, during the winter when they have excess surface flow. The project is about “sharing resources as a region as a way of solving problems,” says Goddard. Water Director Bill Kocher tells GT that all three parties—Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, and Pasatiempo—are serious about the possibility, but that it will “not be quick, nor cheap.” The two main obstacles will be the golf course’s ability to finance the necessary improvements, and creating a means for moving the water. Still, the UWMP factors this exchange in as a potential water source starting in 2020.

But it’s another suggested water transfer that has stolen the spotlight as of late—heralded as a no-brainer by some desalination critics, recently studied as a regional solution by the county, and repeatedly held at arm’s length by skeptical Santa Cruz officials.”

Read more: Goodtimes

Proponents, Opponents Debate Merits of Desalination Plant

Photo retrieved from: www.watersecretblog.com

“SANTA CRUZ – Representatives on both sides of a highly contentious proposed desalination plant debated for nearly 90 minutes Thursday evening in front of an audience of more than 100.

Proponents say the plant would provide a reliable source of water in a worst-case drought scenario, while opponents say the costs are too high both from a financial perspective as well as environmentally.

The debate, held at First Congregational Church in Santa Cruz and hosted by the League of Women Voters of Santa Cruz County, covered largely familiar territory.

Santa Cruz and the Soquel Creek Water District – which serve about 140,000 customers combined – would split that cost, as well as the fresh water it produces, pegged at about 2.5 million gallons per day. Santa Cruz receives its water from surface sources and would get first dibs during the dry summer months.

The Soquel Creek Water District receives its supply from underground aquifers, so those customers would have first call in winter months.

Former Mayor Mike Rotkin and Toby Goddard, Santa Cruz’s water department conservation manager, said the ideas proposed by opponents to the desalination plant – including conservation and water swaps between the district and city – already have been studied and found to be deficient. While expensive and energy intensive, they said, a desalination plant would provide the most reliable source of supplemental water.

But Rick Longinotti, co-founder of the Santa Cruz Desal Alternatives group, and James Bentley, the retired superintendent of water plant and production for the city, contended that droughts do not occur frequently enough to warrant the cost of the plant, which officials now peg at nearly $100 million.

Longinotti also pointed out that a disproportionate amount of the energy used to operate the plant would come from coal-powered plants, which will produce large amounts of greenhouse gasses. Meanwhile, California has been tasked with decreasing those emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Longinotti and Bentley also contend the water situation would be greatly improved if officials spent half the money they would dedicate to the plant on increased conservation efforts and rebate programs.”

Read more: Santa Cruz Sentinel


LAFCO Approves New Water Policy: Cities Sought To Dilute Rules For Expansion Plan

Photo retrieved from: www.santacruzlafco.org

“The commission charged with deciding whether public agencies can annex properties or extend services beyond their boundaries voted unanimously Wednesday to scrutinize the effects such proposals could have on the county’s ever-threatened water supplies.

The new policy requiring applicants “to demonstrate the availability of an adequate, reliable and sustainable supply of water” marks the first time natural resources have been included as a factor the Santa Cruz Local Agency Formation Commission will weigh in considering land-use proposals. Supporters applauded the policy as a far-reaching step toward limiting growth, protecting over-taxed groundwater and surface water supplies, and reducing the toll on local fisheries.

Rick Longinotti, who helped found the Santa Cruz Desal Alternatives group opposed to a proposed regional desalination plant, told commissioners, “We’ve overtaken our limits a long time ago. Your body is turning that reality around and I really appreciate that.”

However, representatives for Santa Cruz and Watsonville, while not objecting to the policy overall, sought unsuccessfully to soften it. Santa Cruz argued that identifying specific water supplies could constrain future land planning, and Watsonville wanted to block LAFCO’s pledge to uniformly reject boundary changes that degrade water resources.”

Read more: Santa Cruz Sentinel

Rick Longinotti: City should wait on UCSC water decision

Loch Lomond Reservoir

Loch Lomond Reservoir. Photo retrieved from: CityofSantaCruz.com

“In 2006, city voters passed Measure J with an 80 percent majority. Under Measure J any new water service for UC Santa Cruz expansion would have to be approved by voters. UCSC immediately filed a lawsuit to overturn Measure J, and UCSC lawyers were successful on a technicality: the notice of the City Council hearing putting Measure J on the ballot wasn’t printed in the paper on time.

“The recently released Environmental Impact Report for the UCSC water service extension confirms what city voters had expressed: Our water supplies are already stretched. The EIR states, “There are inadequate water supplies to serve the project under existing and future multiple dry year drought conditions.” The EIR considers this water inadequacy in dry years a “Significant Unavoidable Impact.” Under state law a project with such impacts cannot be approved unless the approving agency in this case the City Council makes a statement of “overriding consideration.” That’s a claim that the project’s benefits outweigh the significant impact it will cause. The following may help readers decide if that is the case.

“Water for UCSC expansion would come from the city’s water savings account, Loch Lomond. According to a Water Department 2004 report, “It is important to note that, even in normal water conditions, three of the four major sources are presently being utilized at maximum capacity for a significant portion of the year… What this means operationally is that any future increase in seasonal or annual demand for water will be felt through greater and greater withdrawals from Loch Lomond reservoir.”

read more: Santa Cruz Sentinel