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.
Over the next several months, the communities served by the City and District will be participating in the public review process for the Draft Environmental Impact Report (Draft EIR). The Draft EIR contains a large volume of information and complex analyses.
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.
Two public meetings will be 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 are being 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 same information will be provided at both meetings.
The City of Santa Cruz and the Soquel Creek Water District will hold two public hearings:
Each meeting will include 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. For meeting materials, click here
The Draft EIR will be available for public and agency comment for a 60 day period, beginning on May 13, 2013, and concluding on July 15 2013. 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 of 60 calendar days.
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
City of Santa Cruz, Water Department
212 Locust Street, Suite C
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Written comments can be submitted until 5PM, July 15, 2013.
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 60-days public review and comment (May 13, 2013- July 15, 2013) with two public hearings (June 3 and July 1). For more information, see above.
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.