A post from a local resident has been forwarded to me. The resident asked some questions about SqCWD using water transferred from Santa Cruz. I think I can clarify some of your questions, here goes: (answers in red)

1. don’t know the specific concerns about water chemistry differences between Soquel Creek District water and that of Santa Cruz, but one obvious one is that our water is much harder than that of Santa Cruz. Yes, SqCWD is harder than the water that Santa Cruz produces at the Graham Hill Water Treatment Plant. The water chemistry issues are of two types…One is Ph Balance…(Acidity and Alkylinity.) The 2nd issue is that Santa Cruz Water is treated with Orthophosphate which creates a film inside the pipe walls that protect against corrosion. Both of these issues are common to the water supply industry in the entire US. Santa Cruz City has these issues in its Live Oak Service, where half of the year water is supplied to customers from GHWTP and half the year water is supplied from wells in the Purissima aquifer ( the same source that SQCWD uses for Capitola and Soquel customers.)

2. Were the specific water chemistry concerns around water transfers discussed at the meeting? No, there was no discussion about water transfers at the meeting. That was frustrating. Water is available for transfer from Santa Cruz to SqCWD now. The water chemistry issues are real, but solvable. Santa Cruz has solved them for years. Santa Cruz has a water lab and has offered to help SqCWD solve the problems, but no plan to solve the chemistry issues has been made by SqCWD. Ron Duncan and John Leopold know the problems can be solved. They live in Live Oak and are served by the Santa Cruz water department which means they drink this water themselves. Water transfers was part of the Desalination plan advocated by Santa Cruz and Soquel Creek 3 years ago. Soquel Creek was going to receive water from Santa Cruz’ GHWTP. The water chemistry issue was known then, but considered not a critical issue, so it was not even mentioned in the EIR. So, it is a management issue and a chemistry problem, not a fatal flaw or an intractable problem.

3. Or was it strictly about the possible treatment facility?
The moderator limited the discussion to a waste water treatment.

4. This World Health Organization document discusses the health benefits of hard water compared to soft, and implicates soft water as “aggressive” to pipes, where heavy metals can be leached into water, unless properly conditioned or managed: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/chemicals/hardness.pdf?ua=1
I read the WHO pamphlet you sent. It is good. I learned a lot. Nowhere in the 19 pages were alarms raised about using natural water in combination with well water. Here are the most relevant statements, (Page 16). Now that I have read the pamphlet, I am encouraged that swift resolution and action to blend the waters is possible.

I will readily admit to being impatient and annoyed that the district has dragged its feet on exploring and learning how to use this valuable winter flow. Now that I have been to two community meetings and been denied the opportunity to share information we have learned about the power of water transfers, I am incredulous at the district’s conduct. Here is 100 million gallons, right now, pipes installed, valve needing only to be turned on. The district has been working to get in-lieu water transfers from Santa Cruz for years, and they do not even have a written plan to work through the water balancing chemistry required? When the pilot program of 100 million gallons is completed there is more water likely available…possibly as much or more than is planned in the recycled water plant called “ Pure Water”. This water is available now, the Recycled water will not be available until 2022. I do not get it.

If you have any other questions, especially about the facts, please ask me. I will be happy to share what I have learned by reading and studying the Water departments’ own information.

I hope this is helpful.

Scott McGilvray
Water for Santa Cruz County
Live Oak Resident