In the News

City Likely to Spring Forward with New Water Commission
It's also looking into making more recreational use of the San Lorenzo River.

by Brad Kava, Santa Cruz Patch, 11/25/13

The Santa Cruz City Council is considering doing what it often does when it's gridlocked: Appoint a city commission to come up with answers.

The question here is one of the city's most hotly debated: what to do about water?

For years the council and city staff had been moving toward solving the problem with a desalination plant that would replenish drying wells and lowering rivers with de-salted ocean water. However, the $125 million price tag and environmental impacts drew a groundswell of revolt from residents.

In response, the city is considering a new commission to come up with proposals.

The commission, which may take a year of open meetings to make its proposals, would have an outside facilitator that could cost between $150,000-$300,000, according to a staff report.

The commission would be made up of 19 members – "representing a broad array of our community," according to a staff report by Assistant City Manager Tina Shull.

It would include:

*2 City Councilmembers 

*2 Water Commissioners 

*1 Education 

*2 Business

*2 City Residents 

*1 Hotels/Tourism

*1 Santa Cruz Desal Alternatives

*1 Sustainable Water Coalition

*1 Recreation

*1 Industry/Manufacturing

*3 Environmental Organizations

*1 Real Estate/Development

*1 County Resident

Its goals would be:

- Achieve clarity on the arithmetic of our water situation and water needs.

 - Examine the issue of how much our water supply needs are driven by growth and development.

- Understand the impacts during a drought of a blended water strategy that includes strengthened conservation efforts with a modest water supply increase.

 - Achieve an understanding of the seriousness of the salt water intrusion problem for the City system.

 - Ensure that many water supply options, ideas and proposals will be considered or reconsidered to determine: 1) their viability and feasibility; 2) the quantity of water each can provide; and 3) the cost associated with each alternative.

- Make sure we are getting the most from our conservation efforts.

 - Acknowledge the seriousness of the critique of desalination and examine that critique thoroughly.

- Create and implement community and City processes that will move quickly to allow the community to make an informed decision on our water supply approach in the year 2016.

 - Act carefully in relation to Soquel Creek Water District recognizing the challenging situation they face.

Its themes would be:

1) There needs to be a hearty examination of the City’s present and future water landscape, looking at demands, supply and potential threats;

 2) Future water supply options, including desalination, should undergo extensive exploration within the construct of feasibility, adequacy and cost;

 3) Conservation is a cornerstone of our water profile and should be maximized; and

 4) The City should act in careful consideration of its partnership with the Soquel Creek Water District and its need for timely, definitive solutions.

Applications will be accepted for the positions on the committee, if it is approved Tuesday. The meeting on it is at 7 p.m. at City Council Chambers.

The council will also discuss opening the San Lorenzo River to more activities, such as kayaking.

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