FAQs

1. Why Water for Santa Cruz County?
The solution To Santa Cruz, Soquel Creek and Scotts Valley water supply and storage needs is a regional solution.  If Santa Cruz shares its winter water in the North Coast Streams and San Lorenzo river with the other two districts, and Scotts Valley and Soquel Creek share their storage available in their underground aquifers, the problem is solved.

2. What is the background?
The Water Supply Advisory Committee of Santa Cruz spent 18 months investigating the supply problem.  The investigation included the likelihood of significant climate change and change in precipitation patterns.   One of the WSAC conclusions:  in-lieu water transfers and storage can solve the problem.

3. What is the science behind the conclusion?
Two Significant breakthroughs were discovered by WSAC consultant scientists:
• Gary Fiske, Confluence modeler:
• Pueblo Water Resources, Ground water geologists

4. What is in-lieu water transfer and recharge?  — SqCWD example
• Water owned by Santa Cruz via North Coast water rights is treated and sent to SqCWD to meet daily district customer demand.
• SqCWD rests its wells.  The groundwater level in the basin rises through the process of natural infiltration.
• SqCWD groundwater storage grows 1.2 Billion gallons per year.  5 years recharges the aquifer to sustainable pumping level      equal to district demand.
• Santa Cruz water sent to SqCWD does not diminish SC supply for its own customers. In-lieu water not harvested flows out to sea.
• Once water transfers are demonstrated as possible, meaningful in quantity and beneficial, (not harmful), to either districts’ interest, then a  long term agreement  between the districts needs to be negotiated.

5. What does in-lieu water transfer cost?  
$8.5 to $10 Million according to estimates prepared by WSAC engineering consultants.  Most of this money is needed to increase pipe sizes and pump capacities to and from the water districts.

6. Are there other costs?
Santa Cruz Water Department faces $200 Million of capital investment need.  Pipes over 50 years old need replacement, The Water Treatment plant has be rebuilt, among others. These 2 projects alone

7. Why is in-lieu transfer and recharge the best solution?
Harvesting winter water flows available on the San Lorenzo River is the best solution by far. It provides the most water; It costs the least; It uses the least energy.  And it relies upon and enhances Santa Cruz County’s natural resources.

8. Why is the San Lorenzo River such a fantastic water resource?
The River and its Watershed produces an Average of 29 Billion gallons of Water.  Santa Cruz, San Lorenzo Valley, and Scotts Valley use less than 5 Billion gallons each year.  So 24 Billion gallons, on average, flow out to the sea.  Santa Cruz has legal rights to 975 Million gallons of Winter (December to May) water and averages annual harvest of less than 50 Million gallons.  The surplus winter water flow is more than enough to meet the supply and reserve needs of both Santa Cruz and the Soquel Creek Water District.

9. What do we have to do to take advantage of this new water in the San Lorenzo River immediately?
We need to improve pipeline infrastructure.  The present infrastructure limits that harvest.  We need a second pipeline to Loch Lomond.  This will harvest more than 500 Million gallons each year of new water.  We need better pipelines between SqCWD and SC Water Department.

10. Santa Cruz Water needs additional storage capacity
Loch Lomond holds 2.7 Billion gallons.  That is insufficient for a multi-year drought.  Fortunately, two aquifers have 6.9 Billion gallons of recharge capacity. That is twice as much as Santa Cruz needs to achieve water supply security.   The SqCWD water district Purissima aquifer has3.2 Billion gallons of available storage space.

11. Describe the Soquel Creek Water District Situation
Soquel Creek relies 100% on Well water. The annual district demand is 1.2 Billion gallons per year. The district has no rights to surface water at this time. Soquel Creek has over-drafted its ground water basin and  needs reduce its annual draw by 500 Million gallons per year for 20 years to get its ground water basin back into balance.  This situation is dire and would benefit from help from Santa Cruz.  Santa Cruz has water it can share with SqCWD  from Santa Cruz North Coast streams without any change in permit.  SqCWD could apply for water from the San Lorenzo river. This is water Santa Cruz is not using.