In the News

Soquel Creek water board to explore new supply alternatives

By J.M. Brown, Santa Cruz Sentinel, 10/13/13

SOQUEL -- With its seawater desalination partner in flux, the Soquel Creek Water District is exploring other options for a supplemental water supply, including building its own plant or joining a regional project in Moss Landing.

"We are looking at fall-back positions should something happen and they decide they are not moving forward," General Manager Kim Adamson said of Santa Cruz officials. "It's still the No. 1 option."

Facing mounting public opposition, the Santa Cruz City Council approved a plan Tuesday to suspend pursuit of desalination as the preferred water supply project in favor of a deeper, community-based examination of alternatives. The district planned to use the desal plant for offsetting a reduction in groundwater pumping needed to rest its overtaxed aquifers.

Meanwhile, the district has invited leaders of DeepWater Desal to make a presentation Tuesday about their plans to collect water a mile offshore of Moss Landing. The proposal calls for warming the 100-feet-deep water by sending it through a new regional data center, where it would cool off equipment before its salt is stripped to make drinking water.

The district could tap into the DeepWater Desal project by building a pipeline at an estimated cost of $14 million, Adamson said. Comparatively, according to figures from 2012, the district's 40 percent share of the cost of building the Santa Cruz plant stood to be $48 million.

The DeepWater Desal project is the brainchild of Brent Constantz, a consulting associate professor at Stanford University who has garnered support from Salinas to receive the desalinated water and partner on purchasing power. Constantz said the project would have the potential to draw high-tech industry from Silicon Valley and lead to the installation of dark fiber cabling for the Internet.

"Data centers and desal are synergistic because they are big power users," Constantz said.

"Having large purchasing power makes it more effective."

The State Lands Commission has agreed to conduct a state-mandated environmental review for DeepWater Desal, which is 10 times the size of the Santa Cruz proposal. Still, Constantz said his project would have a much smaller carbon footprint because the seawater will be warmer before the salt is removed.

Adamson sees the potential but said a lot of details need to be worked out.

"DeepWater has a lot of moving parts and pieces," Adamson said. "One of the things we are looking at is how viable it is that all these pieces come together."

Also Tuesday, the district will discuss building its own plant on one of two undisclosed, privately owned sites within its boundaries. The capital cost of a district-only plant was estimated earlier this year at $107 million.

In November, the board will hear from the county's water resources manager about the possibility of transfers with neighboring agencies, including Santa Cruz. City officials also will consider transfers among the alternatives to desal, but have not ruled out that they eventually will pursue desal to reduce impacts from drought, growth and mandated fish habitat protection.

Follow Sentinel reporter J.M. Brown at


WHAT: Presentation of DeepWater Desal proposal, district-only desal plant
WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Capitola Council Chamber, 420 Capitola Ave.

© 2008-2013 scwd2 Desalination Program, All rights reserved.