We held a water facts seminar on two successive nights. People attending the seminar came from a wide range of awareness about water. At one end of the spectrum were 3 employees of the Santa Cruz water department and a member of the Water Supply Advisory committee. At the other end were interested citizens with little background, but great curiosity.
Water Fact Seminar Summary
There were six topics covered in detail:
Water units and understanding how they translate. HCF is Hundred Cubic Feet, mostly used in relation to water and it’s cost. We also covered Cubic Feet Per Second, and what an acre-foot is.
Capital Improvement Projects in Santa Cruz water department service area. We examined the 2005-2014 history of capital improvements and the plans for the next 3 years. Most specifically the need to rebuild old pipes in order to safely get the water we have to the people who need it. Projects like this take years to be built, and an improved budget is necessary to see the projects to completion.
The financial condition of Santa Cruz Water department and the recent history. Santa Cruz County is very willing to accept whole heartedly the 20% reduction for water rationing recently introduced to California, and even before that the people of Santa Cruz have excellent water saving practices. However, the reduction in water use in Santa Cruz over the past 10 years and unexpected infrastructure problems have depleted the Water Departments resources. Their reserves were $35 million in 2011 and the balance was $11 million at July 31, 2014. The Water Department does not have enough funding to respond to infrastructure emergencies if all of our old pipes were to fail.
The cost of water compared:
Costs of water if 61% rate increase is approved. The cost is 1.5 cents per gallon.
The cost of building the desal plant is $115 million, and it costs $3.69/HCF (Hundred Cubic Feet) to operate the plant to produce potable water, ready for standard water treatment. Adding capital cost increases the cost to $10.00/ HCF at a minimum.
Is water cheap or expensive?
A 2 person family, consumes about 50 gallons of water each per day, that is 24,000 pounds of water a month. The cost for that water is $49.00.
If the water were sand, and delivered in bulk, 24,000 pounds of sand would cost $675.00. The delivery would be a pile in the driveway, so each person would need to carry 400 lbs. to the sink, shower, etc. each day.
For much less than that we get fresh clean water pumped into our pipes whenever we want it. So are we paying too much for our water?
What is the good news?
Good news is Santa Cruz has a very high adoption rate of conservation technology and practices. It is also predicted that technological improvements in toilets, clothes washers and other appliances can generate a savings of 500 million gallons per year.
If you have any further questions or interest in what we wrote about today, please let us know!
Here is a good break down of how much we will pay for our water on a daily basis with the 61% increase.
If you would like to read more about how the water rate increase will effect you, please respond with any and all questions.