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Funding a neighboring water district emergency intertie system
by Paul Gratz
Monday Feb 24th, 2014 12:31 PM
It seems the Santa Cruz City Council is playing catch up in order to address the deepening drought, dropping reservoir levels, increasing aquifer overdraft/saltwater intrusion, and climate change impacts. Today with stages 3-5 water shortage emergencies looming, the public remains increasingly vulnerable as a result of the City's failure to develop a comprehensive Plan B alternative after the overwhelming passage of Measure P in 2012.
This troubling situation could breed further concerns about City Council credibility. On the other hand, it could be an important opportunity for reducing uncertainties if the City Council decides to clearly articulate and demonstrate a results-oriented water-wise policy.

By the way, last week Governor Brown and state legislators announced emergency legislation to make available $687.4 million to support drought relief, including bond funds for projects to help communities more efficiently capture and manage water as well as grant funding for securing emergency water supplies for drought-impacted communities.

Therefore, I urge the City to take the lead as a co-applicant to obtain grant funding for the immediate construction of an emergency intertie to link together the service areas of the six neighboring water systems operating in the North/Mid-County region.

First conceived seven years ago, this regional intertie would physically connect the isolated water systems, thus permitting the effective delivery, storage, and exchange of both potable and non-potable recycled (tertiary treated) water supplies. Furthermore, creating this collaborative intertie would allow neighboring communities to back up each other’s water supplies for crucial residential, commercial, irrigation, and public uses.

The neighboring regional water agencies appear qualified to co-apply for the extremely competitive grant funds. That said, in reality the City and Soquel Creek Water District already have wasted a tremendous amount of time and money to pursue a risky desal project instead of constructing a much needed interie. That unfortunate regional experience could be problematic for City when the state rigorously evaluates and ranks the many competing grant proposals. Let's hope not.

Irregardless of the effort to obtain the grant funds, bottom line: it is imperative that elected officials get the emergency intertie on-line by the summer.


This was sent as a letter to the Santa Cruz City Council on February 24, 2014.