Environmental Review Process

Why is Desalination Being Studied in an EIR?

Both the City of Santa Cruz (City) and Soquel Creek Water District (District) have conducted extensive evaluations of their water needs and available sources, and are pursuing integrated approaches to water supply planning that include conservation programs and curtailment (or cutbacks) of water during periods of drought. In addition to these conservation and curtailment programs, the City and District have also identified the need for a supplemental supply of water. The City and District independently analyzed several alternatives and decided to pursue seawater desalination as a source of supplemental supply.

The City and District are jointly evaluating the proposed scwd2 Regional Seawater Desalination Project (proposed project) that, along with conservation, would address water supply shortages by supplementing existing supplies by up to 2.5 million gallons per day.

Before any final decisions are made, the City of Santa Cruz and Soquel Creek Water District (scwd2) Regional Seawater Desalination Project is undergoing a thorough environmental review in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  The community will have multiple opportunities to participate and comment during the environmental review process.

Draft EIR and the Community Guide

The public comment period for the draft EIR was May 13- August 12, 2013. The comment period is now closed.

A Community Guide has also been created which is a 35-page handbook to the Draft EIR.  It is intended to provide a summary and overview of the proposed project and key elements of the environmental analysis provided in the Draft EIR, including environmental design features, mitigation measures, and feasible alternatives. The guide also provides information about the environmental review process and how to provide comments on the Draft EIR.

How to get a copy of the Draft EIR

  • Electronic copies of the Draft EIR are available by clicking here
  • Hard copies are available at:
    • City of Santa Cruz and Soquel Creek Water District Offices
      • Soquel Creek Water District: 5180 Soquel Drive, Soquel, California
      • City of Santa Cruz Water Department : 212 Locust Street, Suite C, Santa Cruz, California
      • Santa Cruz Planning and Community Development Department, 809 Center Street Room 107, Santa Cruz, CA
      • City of Santa Cruz, City Clerk, 809 Center Street Room 9, Santa Cruz, CA
      • City of Santa Cruz Water Department, 212 Locust St., Suite C, Santa Cruz, CA
      • Santa Cruz County Clerk’s Office: 701 Ocean St., Room 210, Santa Cruz, CA
    • Public libraries within the agencies’ service areas
      •  Downtown Branch, 224 Church Street, Santa Cruz, 831-420-5700
      • Branciforte Branch, 230 Gault Street, Santa Cruz, 831-427-7704
      • Garfield Park Branch, 705 Woodrow Avenue, Santa Cruz, 831-427-7709
      • Live Oak Branch, 2380 Portola Drive, Santa Cruz, 831-427-7711
      • Capitola Branch, 2005 Wharf Road, Capitola, 831-427-7705
      • Aptos Branch, 7695 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 831-427-7702
      • La Selva Branch, 316 Estrella Avenue, LSB
      • Scotts Valley Branch, 251 Kings Village Rd, Scotts Valley, (831) 427-7712
      • Porter Memorial Library, 3050 Porter Street, Soquel

Public Hearings to Receive Oral and Written Comments

Two public meetings were held to inform the public about the Draft EIR and to receive written and oral comments on the adequacy of the information present in the Draft EIR. Two meetings were held in order to accommodate both agency personnel, who typically work during daylight hours on weekdays, and the public at large, for whom evening or night meetings are typically more convenient.

The City of Santa Cruz and the Soquel Creek Water District held two public hearings:

  • June 3, 2013 at Seacliff Inn (7500 Old Dominion Ct, Aptos) from 12:00 PM – 2:30 PM
  • July 1, 2013 at First Congregational Church (900 High Street, Santa Cruz) from 6:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Each meeting included an open house (30 minutes) and presentation (30 minutes), followed by a public comment period. Generally the same information will be presented at each meeting.

90-day Comment Period and How to Submit Comments

The Draft EIR was made available for public and agency comment beginning on May 13, 2013 and was extended to August 12, 2013.  The comment period is now closed. CEQA only requires a 45 day public review period for Draft EIRs submitted to the State Clearinghouse for review (PRC Section 21091), however given the public interest in the proposed project, the lead agencies have decided to provide a longer comment period.

During the public comment period, written comments on the adequacy of the Draft EIR must be submitted by all interested public agencies, organizations, community groups, and individuals to:

Heidi Luckenbach, scwd2 Desalination Program Coordinator
City of Santa Cruz, Water Department
212 Locust Street, Suite C
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Email: hluckenbach@cityofsantacruz.com
Written comments can be submitted until 5PM, August 12, 2013.

What is the timeline and steps for the environmental review process?

 The following is a summary of the environmental review process:

  • NOP/IS:  The Notice of Preparation/Initial Study (NOP/IS) is the public notice that launched the scoping period and identified the potential environmental effects of the proposed project for consideration by agencies and the public.  Click here to access the NOP/IS.  (Completed)

  • Scoping:The scoping process collected public and agency feedback on the issues that should be evaluated in the EIR. During the scoping comment period (November 15, 2010 - January 10, 2011) or at one of the public scoping meetings (December 8, 2010), the public provided input on the environmental topics, potential effects, mitigation measures, and range of alternatives to be analyzed.  Click here to access the NOP/IS. (Completed)

  • Draft EIR:  After analysis of technical studies and engaging with the public, the Draft EIR has been produced for public review and comment.

    • The Draft EIR will be made available for public review and comment (May 13, 2013- August 12, 2013) with two public hearings (June 3 and July 1). 

  • Final EIR: The project team reviews and responds to comments received on the Draft EIR, completes any remaining study and analysis, and makes any revisions to the EIR necessary.

  • Certification of Final EIR: The Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors and the Santa Cruz City Council shall consider certification of the Final EIR.

  • Consideration of Project Approval: If the Final EIR is certifed, the Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors and the Santa Cruz City Council shall consider conditional project approval, make required findings, and adopt a mitigation monitoring and reporting program.   If conditionally approved by the City and District, project approval is subject to the vote of the City electorate.  if approved by the City electorate, necessary permits, authorizations, and consultations from federal, state, and local agencies would be pursued.

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