Our Water, Our Future
2018 ANNUAL REPORT
2018 was a productive year of work on
projects related to securing Santa Cruz’s
It’s been three years since the Santa Cruz City
Council approved recommendations made
by the Water Supply Advisory Committee
(WSAC) to help ensure that our water supply
is secure and reliable, and in 2018,
significant progress was made on the
First a quick recap – the Water Supply
Advisory Committee included 14 Santa Cruz/
Live Oak residents who were appointed by
the City Council in 2014 to address the City’s
water supply challenges. The group met for 18
months and did 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
ways to meet the gap.
At the end of their process, the WSAC
recommended that along with increased water
conservation, the City explore the following
elements to supplement water supply:
0 I Increase water conservation
1 I Explore sharing water with other
2 I Store available winter water in
3 I Use purified recycled water and
desalinated water to meet the supply gap
The WSAC also recommended that the
Water Department study the feasibility of
all recommendations at the same time, so
that by 2020 a fully informed decision can
be made on which recommendation(s) to
implement. This report will update you on
the progress that was made in 2018 to
inform that decision.
Rosemary Menard, Water Director,
Santa Cruz Water Department
Reduce demand by an additional
200-250 million gallons per year
by 2035 through expanded
water conservation programs.
Did You Know?
Even with projected growth,
water use is expected to remain
flat due to price, conservation,
and new plumbing and
As a precautionary measure resulting
from the low rainfall and runoff in
the winter of 2017-18, Stage 1 water
restrictions were imposed during the dry
season of 2018. The following activities
were undertaken to further goals for
water conservation. In 2018, we:
• Continued to offer a robust suite of
conservation programs including rebate
programs, home water surveys, large
landscape budgets and others.
• Created a new home water use report
program for top single-family residential
customers. The water reports will
provide a comparison of the customer’s
usage pattern to that of similar efficient
households. This program is scheduled
to launch in spring 2019.
• Finished a pilot project to identify
and recover leaks through advanced
water meter technology with a group
of 350 large irrigation meter accounts,
including local community parks
• Completed a study of advanced water
meter technology for Santa Cruz.
This study looked at appropriate
technologies as well as the costs and
benefits of implementation.
• Reached the milestone of more than
10,000 clothes washer rebates provided
to customers since the program began
in the year 2000.
• Continued to improve upon the large
landscape water budget program
by introducing new online mapping
technology for customers to view
site maps and suggest edits to their
• Followed average residential water use
per capita at 48 gallons per person per
day (among the lowest levels
• Improved the accuracy of our annual
water loss audit report, which
demonstrates a declining trend in
system leakage in 2018.
Explore sharing water with
other water districts (also
known as In Lieu).
Develop agreements to deliver
surface water to Soquel Creek
Water District and/or Scotts
Valley Water District so that they
could potentially rest their wells,
help the aquifers recover and
effectively store water for use by
Santa Cruz Water Department
during drought years.
Did You Know?
of aquifers provides water from
another source in lieu of drawing
water from an aquifer, so the
aquifer can rest and recharge.
Explore Sharing Water with
Other Water Districts
Ninety-five percent of Santa Cruz’s water supply is surface water, from creeks and
rivers; Soquel Creek and Scotts Valley water supplies are 100% groundwater from
aquifers. The chemistry of surface water and groundwater is different, and may
require different treatment. After two years of analysis to confirm the compatibility of
Santa Cruz surface water and Soquel Creek Water District groundwater, a formal pilot
water-sharing project began on December 3, 2018. During the pilot, water quality and
groundwater levels where water is no longer being drawn from will be studied.
You can think of water exchanges/in-lieu as “banking” water for use in the future.
By water districts using surface water in-lieu of using groundwater, aquifers are able
to rest and recharge with water. Then, during dry times when surface water is in short
supply, water supply may be drawn from recharged aquifers.
Explore using winter water
from the City’s flowing water
sources to recharge regional
aquifers (also known as Aquifer
Storage and Recovery or ASR).
Use existing infrastructure such
as wells and pipelines, as well
as create new infrastructure, to
store excess water in regional
aquifers that can then be used
by Santa Cruz Water Department
during drought years.
Did You Know?
The average cost to replace a
mile of water main is $2.2M and
Santa Cruz has over 300 miles of
pipes in the system.
Store Available Winter Water
in Underground Aquifers
Much progress was made on ASR in 2018. Most significantly, an initial set of
groundwater modeling scenarios for the Santa Margarita and Mid-County
groundwater basins were completed, helping to direct ASR efforts to areas where
they might have the most positive impacts on the basins.
Based on the positive results of the modeling, the decision was made to proceed
to Phase 2 of the ASR feasibility study for the Mid-County Groundwater Basin.
Phase 2 includes installing temporary modifications at the Department’s Beltz 12
wellsite, as well as permitting and pilot testing. Pilot testing in the Mid-County Basin
begins in early 2019, while identifying a pilot test location in the Santa Margarita
Explore creating a potable
water supply through advanced
treated recycled water options
or by desalination.
Use advanced treated recycled
water to supplement or
replace supply in the event the
groundwater storage strategies
prove insufficient to meet the
cost effectiveness, timeliness
or yield goals of the WSAC
recommendations plan. In the
event advanced treated recycled
water does not meet the needs,
desalination would supplant
Recycled Water and Desal
Advanced treated recycled water and desalination were included in the same element
(Element 3) with the intention that, following feasibility-level work, just one would
proceed for further evaluation and preliminary design.
At the November 27, 2018, City Council meeting, the Council supported staff and the
Water Commission’s recommendation to move advanced, treated recycled water
forward as the preferred supplemental supply alternative over desalination. As part
of the Council’s action, staff was authorized to evaluate an expansion of the City’s
Wastewater Treatment Facility’s existing tertiary treatment capacity (water treated
to a tertiary level is suitable for irrigation and other outdoor supply needs), as well
as to evaluate additional opportunities to use advanced treated recycled water to
supplement the City’s water supply. Advanced treatment can be used to achieve a
variety of desired water quality levels, from near drinking water to irrigation.
Staff is developing work plans to support the Council directives.
Water Supply Advisory Committee
members at the celebratory in-lieu
valve turning in December.
L-R: Rick Longinotti, Greg Pepping, Peter
Beckman, David Stearns, Mike Rotkin, Sarah
Mansergh, Doug Engfer, Erica Stanojevic,
Sue Holt, David Baskin. Not pictured: Dana
Jacobsen, Charlie Keutmann, Mark Mesiti-
Miller, Sid Slatter.
Fast Facts about the Water Department
Laguna Creek, Liddell Spring,
Loch Lomond, Majors Creek, San
Lorenzo River, Tait and Beltz wells
Santa Cruz &
Drinking water produced
(As far as Santa Cruz
to Santa Barbara)
2,800 million gallons, about a
year’s worth of drinking water
The Water Commission meets on the first Monday of
every month and the public is encouraged to attend.
Meetings are at 7 pm and typically held in City Council
Chambers at 809 Center Street. Visit cityofsantacruz.
confirm the location and preview the agenda.
A joint meeting of the Water Commission and the City
Council will be held on April 23 to update the Council
on progress made on the WSAC recommendations.
The meeting will be at 7 pm in City Council Chambers –
809 Center Street.
212 Locust Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
SANTA CRUZ, CA
PERMIT NO. 11