Purpose & Need

Our Endangered Water Supply

Why do we need a supplemental supply source?

The City of Santa Cruz's water system relies entirely on rainfall, runoff, and groundwater within watersheds located in Santa Cruz County; and no water is imported from outside the Santa Cruz area (such as from the State Water project). As a result, the City’s system is vulnerable to shortage in dry years.

Three primary factors create significant challenges for the City to provide adequate water supply now and in the future:

Soquel Creek Water District relies entirely on groundwater from the Soquel-Aptos area, which is currently being pumped at an unsustainable rate and is in a state of overdraft. This means that more water is pumped out through wells than is replenished by rainfall seeping deep underground into the aquifers. If the total groundwater extraction from the District and other pumpers (including the City, the Central Water District, mutual water companies, and private well owners) continues at the current rate, the groundwater levels will be too low to protect against seawater intrusion. This condition could worsen with predicted effects from climate change. Changing water quality requirements may also affect the use of a portion of the District’s groundwater sources.

Both the City of Santa Cruz and Soquel Creek Water District have evaluated their water needs and available sources and determined that a new water source  is a necessary component of an overall water plan to meet the demand for water in the community.  

Numerous studies have consistently confirmed that we must also diversity our water portfolios by developing a new source of supply.  An thorough examination of all factors has led our two agencies to evaluate desalination as the most feasible option to provide water during drought conditions, to limit groundwater pumping and to prevent seawater intrusion.  In conjunction with conservation and curtailment, desalination could help supplement existing water supplies. 



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