Just the Facts, Please …
From the Staff at Soquel Creek Water District
One of Soquel Creek Water District’s main charges is to deliver safe and high quality water to our customers, so our Board of Directors has been justifiably cautious about the concept of using water recycling, or Advanced Water Purification (AWP), to produce water that can be injected into the ground to replenish our depleted aquifers. Advanced Water Purification, however, has the benefits of being reliable, locally owned and controlled, and comparable in price to other alternatives. In addition, these types of projects are currently in use around the world and can potentially be studied and implemented in a timelier manner than desalination or water transfers. For these reasons, the District sought and received a state grant to conduct a year-long feasibility study on recycled water for groundwater replenishment that began in July 2015.
Despite the District taking action and spending funds to examine AWP for groundwater replenishment, at their September 1 meeting the Board made it very clear that they still had concerns about the quality of the water produced by the AWP process. Several District customers had approached Board members and District staff with compelling arguments for a more in-depth examination of the water quality testing process and Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs). The Board members listened and echoed those concerns in their questions during the meeting. The Board directed staff to work with its consultants to gather water quality data and testing results from other AWP projects and compile a comprehensive literature review so that they could examine the information themselves rather than simply rely on the testimony of experts that the process and product are safe.
At the October 2015 meeting, the District’s consultant, Andy Salveson, from Carollo Engineers, presented a summary technical memo to address the concerns of community members and the Board. His presentation included: an exhaustive literature review; data from several existing facilities currently using AWP; comparisons between recycled water, surface water, and our own District groundwater in terms of CEC levels; and detailed testimonials regarding his own personal experiences with looking for endocrine disruptors, pathogens, viruses, and other potential contaminants in recycled water during his 19 years working in the field. Board members asked pointed questions about state and federal standards, how they were established, and how they keep up with the ever-expanding list of CECs.
After walking them through the standards and regulations in place at existing AWP facilities in locations such as Orange County, Mr. Salveson described: how the industry has its own stringent set of standards that go above and beyond federal and state standards; the constant evaluation and re-evaluation of standards, practices, and monitoring undertaken by the industry to ensure a safe end product; and how public health and safety are always the top concerns for an industry that serves agencies and municipalities charged with providing life’s most precious resource. After gaining a better understanding of this information, Board members expressed a higher level of confidence in the quality of the water produced by AWP.
We encourage you to learn more about AWP by looking at the technical memo and other useful information on our website at http://www.soquelcreekwater.org/our-water/advanced-water-purification. The feasibility study will be completed in spring 2016, and we will continue to share the latest news and activities on our efforts toward securing a supplemental water supply to help solve our serious long-term water shortage.
As always, we welcome community input. Please contact Matt Orbach, Public Outreach Specialist, at 831.475.8501×118 or email@example.com