Soquel Creek groundwater replenishment project awarded $21M

Aug. 29, 2022
The WaterSMART-funded project will benefit the over-drafted Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin by taking treated, recycled municipal wastewater and using advanced water treatment methods to produce up to 1,500 acre-feet of purified water annually.

The Soquel Creek Water District’s groundwater replenishment and sweater intrusion prevention project has received a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for $20,925,000.

The funding will help offset costs of the Pure Water Soquel Groundwater Replenishment and Seawater Intrusion Prevention Project, which is the primary, most cost-effective, and efficient means of creating a sustainable alternative water supply to address the critically over-drafted Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin.

“The District continues to successfully gain remarkable levels of support for Pure Water Soquel from funding agencies, aimed at providing a drought-resilient, clean, and sustainable water supply and bringing ever-greater benefit to our ratepayers,” said Tom LaHue, President of the District’s Board of Directors. “We are so grateful for this $21 million grant which, when added to the prior $9 million grant awarded under this grant program, represents a benefit of $2,000 per each of our 15,000 customer accounts. Many thanks to the Bureau of Reclamation for its strong support for preventing further seawater contamination and increasing water reuse in our region.”

Pure Water Soquel will take treated, recycled municipal wastewater and use advanced water treatment methods to produce up to 1,500 acre-feet of purified water annually. This purified water will then be sent to seawater intrusion prevention/recharge wells to replenish the critically over-drafted Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin. This basin, which is the sole source of supply for District customers and other residents in the mid-county, is designated by the State of California as one of 21 basins throughout the state that is critically over-drafted. This over-drafting is causing seawater contamination of the groundwater within the groundwater basin and along the entire coastline. Recharging the basin with purified, clean, safe water will create and maintain a barrier against seawater contamination and provide a high-quality, reliable, and sustainable water supply for generations to come in the Santa Cruz Mid-County region.

The Pure Water Soquel project is currently under construction, including an advanced water purification center, wastewater recycling equipment at the Santa Cruz Wastewater Treatment Facility, eight miles of pipelines, and three seawater intrusion prevention wells. The District anticipates that various portions of the Pure Water Soquel Project will complete construction in 2023 - 2024.

The federal Title XVI program identifies and investigates opportunities to reclaim and reuse wastewaters and impaired ground and surface water in the 17 western states and Hawaii. Title XVI includes funding for the planning, design, and construction of water recycling and reuse projects in partnership with local government entities. This month a total of over $310 million dollars was awarded to support 25 projects throughout the west as part of the WaterSMART: Title XVI WIIN Act Water Reclamation and Reuse Projects program. Along the central coast of California alone, approximately $54 million in funding was provided for projects in Pismo Beach, Morro Bay, and Monterey, in addition to the grant for Pure Water Soquel.

In addition to this grant, the District has received funding support for Pure Water Soquel from both the U.S. government and the State of California, including a $50 million State Proposition 1 Groundwater Implementation Grant; a $9 million grant from the Bureau of Reclamation; a $2 million State planning grant; and low-interest loans through the State Seawater Intrusion Control Loan Program and from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program.

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