In the News

Water Agencies Take Next Step towards Desalination Plant

A Full Environmental Study Planned — Scoping Starts in December

Mid-County Post, 11/23/10

What would a desalination plant mean for the local environment? The two local water agencies considering whether to build one want to hear from the community about specific questions and concerns that the upcoming environmental impact report (EIR) should include.

Gathering those questions is part of what is known as the scoping process. The questions can submitted in person at one of two special meetings Dec. 8 or in written form by Jan. 10.

The Soquel Creek Water District and Santa Cruz Water Department have been investigating the possibility of a desalination plant for years.

A temporary pilot plant gave officials data about costs and quality for several methods of filtering salt from ocean water, and other studies have looked at how water would move in and brine would move out of a plant.

Those will help determine what areas an EIR should address, and 14 specific topics have already been identified. These include greenhouse gas emission, growth, effects on animals and plants, and possible alternatives.

The two public events will begin with an open house, during which community members can speak with water officials and ask questions. The formal submission of questions and issues for the EIR will follow.

Those are scheduled on Dec. 8 in Santa Cruz at the First Congregational Church, 900 High Street, Noon to 2:30 p.m. and in Capitola at New Brighton Middle School, 250 Washburn Avenue, 6:30 to 9 p.m.

The proposed project includes a 2.5 million gallon per day desalination facility, most likely on the west side of Santa Cruz. It would provide water to the Santa Cruz department during drought years. When rainfall provides that Santa Cruz agency enough water, the Soquel Creek Water District would get supplements for its supply and rest one of its groundwater wells, allowing the district's underground aquifer to recharge.

Soquel Creek Water District is an independent government agency service residential and commercial users in Soquel, Aptos, La Selva Beach, and most of Capitola. Santa Cruz City's department is part of the city, and serves not only Santa Cruz residents and businesses, but also Live Oak, Santa Cruz Gardens and parts of Capitola.

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