A 500 Million Gallon Pipeline for Water in Santa Cruz

 

Last week the loose consortium of local water advocates known as Water for Santa Cruz held a series of workshops detailing a new proposal for addressing the community’s water supply shortfall. Led by Scott McGilvray, the workshop provided information on the monthly flow of the San Lorenzo River, the infrastructure for drawing water, and the legal and regulatory environment that governs use of the river.

The workshops also served to unveil a proposal that would install new infrastructure, and leverage the existing storage system, to help local agencies use more of the water available during the rainy season.

Should the Santa Cruz Water Dept. build a pipeline to capture and store additional winter flows in Loch Lomond?

Every winter, the City of Santa Cruz could be capturing an additional 500 million gallons from the San Lorenzo River.

Specifically, the proposal calls for collection infrastructure that can deal with turbid water, and the construction of a new pipeline to connect the Felton diversion center with Loch Lomond, effectively increasing the amount of water that can be pumped up to the reservoir at any one time. The proposal would take advantage of multiple abandoned quarries to increase the total storage capacity of the system. The stored water could then be used by the Santa Cruz Water Department in the summer and during droughts, while helping to replenish the aquifers in Soquel Creek during the rainy season.

The proposal’s central concept was originally presented to the Santa Cruz City Council by the County Water Resources Director John Ricker some years back. However, according to McGilvray, then Water Department Director Bill Kocher was dismissive of the idea, electing to move forward with the department’s preferred option at the time: desalination.

Since then, City voters approved Measure P, which mandates that any new desalination facility be voted on by the public – a high hurdle for approval. In response, City leaders and officials called for a “reset” on the water discussion, leading to the formation of the Water Supply Advisory Committee (WSAC), a group of appointed citizens charged with learning about the local water supply system as well as its problems. The WSAC will issue policy recommendations for the City Council to consider later this year.

As part of their work, WSAC held an Ideas Convention in October of last year, inviting the community at large to submit their own proposals for addressing the City’s water needs. It was at that time a group of interested local community members, including Scott McGilvray, Jerry Paul and Joeben Bivert submitted a whole host of new ideas to WSAC, many of which picked up where John Ricker left off in his original presentation.

Having surveyed the collective landscape of feasibility and innovation, this latest iteration hopes to provide a more detailed plan for action.

Should the Santa Cruz Water Dept. build a pipeline to capture and store additional winter flows in Loch Lomond?

Every winter, the City of Santa Cruz could be capturing an additional 500 million gallons from the San Lorenzo River.

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