WSAC Annual Report 2017

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Our Water,

Our Future



Dear Resident,

It’s been two years since the Santa Cruz City Council approved recommendations

made by the Water Supply Advisory Committee (WSAC) to help make our water

supply secure and reliable. This second Annual Report will bring you up to speed

on the status of those recommendations.

First a quick recap. The WSAC – a group of 14 residents who were appointed by

the City Council in 2014 – met for 18 months to complete a deep technical dive

into the City’s water system. The WSAC identified the water supply gap that

needs to be filled, and made several recommendations for potential solutions.

The WSAC finished their work by making the following recommendations

to City Council:

• Increase water conservation

• Explore sharing water with other water districts

• Store excess winter water in underground aquifers

• Utilize purified recycled water

• Utilize desalinated water to meet the supply gap

The WSAC also recommended that the City study the feasibility of all five

recommendations at the same time, so that by 2020 a fully informed decision

can be made on which recommendation(s) to implement.

That brings us to 2018. What’s happened since our last report?


Rosemary Menard, Water Director, Santa Cruz Water Department


Customer water use continued to trend lower in 2017,

despite abundant rainfall.

In 2017, we:

• Implemented a new water rate structure that

encourages conservation

• Doubled the number of workshops and trainings

we provided for the public and partnered with

other utilities

• Improved the large landscape water budget

program by providing hourly consumption

data online

• Designed and implemented a pilot project to assess

the feasibility of Advanced Metering Infrastructure

for large landscapes, parks and school sites

• Produced and distributed an award-winning

Know Your Water Service guidebook to encourage

efficient water use

• Reached a milestone of 10,000 plumbing retrofits

on resale properties since our retrofit program

began in 2003

• Became the first utility in the nation to earn

Platinum Status for water conservation program

operations and management from the Alliance

for Water Efficiency

Aquifer Storage and Recovery

In 2017, we made significant progress on Aquifer Storage

and Recovery (ASR), completing critical analyses to determine

the technical feasibility, as well as a study to identify potential

sites for future wells to inject and recover water that would be

stored in regional aquifers.

The most significant finding of the feasibility analyses is that

there does not appear to be a “fatal flaw,” on paper, with

the concept.



The same well

can be used to both inject

surface water into an aquifer,

and also to withdraw

from it? Not so with

recycled water.

What kinds of things could prevent ASR? For example, negative

results from a study of whether adding surface water to

groundwater produces poor water quality. Or, whether

injection and recovery rates will be within the parameters

needed to cost-effectively build and operate the project.

So far, none of these fatal flaws have been identified.

Up to an acre of land can be required for new wells, pumps,

treatment and maintenance. Also, the well must be located

where water can be injected into the water-bearing strata

of an aquifer, and new wells can’t be placed too close to

existing wells.

Water Exchange/Water Sharing

In 2017, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed with the

Scotts Valley Water District, San Lorenzo Valley Water District

and Santa Cruz County to evaluate potential opportunities for

conjunctive use of surface and groundwater resources.

Ninety-five percent of Santa Cruz’s water supply is surface

water (creeks and rivers) and Soquel Creek and Scotts Valley

water supplies are 100% groundwater from aquifers. San

Lorenzo Valley water supply is a combination of surface

water and groundwater. The chemistry of surface water and

groundwater is different, and may require different treatment.

In 2017, in-depth analyses began to study the compatibility of

using surface water in a groundwater system, and vice versa.

In particular, the studies are looking at the potential for the

release of lead, copper or iron that may exist in household

plumbing, which could be triggered by switching source

water sources. Results of the analysis will determine the future

course for water sharing with other districts.



Conjunctive use

means to use groundwater and

surface water synergistically.


Recycled Water and Desal

During an 18-month study that began in 2016, we looked at more than

40 options for using advanced-treated wastewater from the City’s

Wastewater Treatment Facility as a potential supplemental water supply.

We also updated the existing desalination project assumptions and cost

estimates so that we could evaluate both back-up options – recycled water

and desalination – with current information.


The City of Santa Cruz Wastewater

Treatment Facility serves

130,000 people

and discharges ±six million gallons

of treated wastewater into

the bay every day.

Treated recycled water has many uses, and we looked at several of

them during the past year. From irrigation, to being pumped up to and

blended with water stored in the Loch Lomond Reservoir, to being

treated and injected into aquifers, the results of the analyses have

created a rich data source for comparison of all of the alternatives

for a final recommendation.


The Ocean Plan

was amended in 2015 with a specific

approach to design and operate new

and expanded desalination facilities

that minimize ocean impacts.

Using the existing desalination project framework, we incorporated

comments made in the 2013 project Environmental Impact Report,

along with new environmental regulations and direction from the

WSAC, to update the desalination project scope. Based on the amount

of water the WSAC determined is needed to fill our supply gap during

dry years, the updated scope reflects a bigger desal project as well as

adjusted intake and pump station locations.

Upcoming Meetings

The Water Commission meets on the first Monday

of every month and the public is encouraged to

attend. Meetings are at 7 pm and are typically held

in City Council Chambers at 809 Center Street.



confirm the location and preview the agenda.

A joint meeting of the Water Commission and the City

Council will be held on April 10 to update the Council

on progress made on the WSAC recommendations. The

meeting will be at 7 pm in the City Council Chambers –

809 Center Street.

Sign up to receive the monthly WSAC update email


212 Locust Street

Santa Cruz, CA 95060






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