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Coastal water district lessens the vulnerability of drinking water supply

Soquel Creek Water District

Soquel, CA

Soquel Creek Water District aggregates and optimizes data workflow as saltwater intrusion threatens its potable water supply, state groundwater regulation increases, and regional population continues to grow.

Topics Covered

Water Supply & Drought
Water Quality
Process Improvement

Cost

Initial: 20 Thousand USD

Funding

General Fund/Existing Public Funds

Project Status

Operational since 2015

Problem Addressed

Soquel Creek Water District needed to reduce the vulnerability of a groundwater basin that provided drinking water for its customers. 

Groundwater has been the only source of drinking water for utility customers. but the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin is being drawn down faster than rainfall can replenish. And despite extensive water conservation efforts by customers, the basin remains in a state of overdraft. While the coordination of the 11-member Midcounty Groundwater Agency to comply with SGMA poses some challenges, seawater intrusion is the primary problem.

As the largest pumper in the basin, Soquel Creek Water District maintains monitoring responsibilities. As it collaborates with 10 other agency-members across water boundaries to sustain the aquifer and lessen the vulnerability of water supplies, the amount of data it collect continues to grow. To get ahead of data overload and identify more comprehensively informed options, district staff have consolidated data silos.

Solutions Used

Soquel Creek Water District can now better monitor the groundwater basin and its water levels using a new centralized data system.

The utility has implemented a new centralized data system to secure and overcome differences in file formats from historical and current sensors and loggers.

Personnel have been empowered to more easily evaluate the state of the groundwater basin as the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was signed into law in 2014.

Enhanced quality control processes and data visualization tools ensure that manual water level measurements and automated logger data values fall within an acceptable range of error. Water level data across multiple wells are quickly plotted and explored with analytical tools. Previously, staff received an annual report with static plots for review.

Ahead of future state regulations regarding groundwater quality, Soquel Creek Water District is integrating water quality and quantity datasets.

Datasets are shared with an approved hydrogeologist consultant as needed. Instead of tedious data validation, this contractor can continue to develop and calibrate the basin's integrated surface and groundwater model, which had begun while other groundwater sustainability agencies (GSA) were still forming.

Outcomes

1

The district will diversify its water supply. A $50M State Prop 1 grant will cover 50% projected construction costs for a new groundwater replenishment facility & distribution system.

2

Integrating time series & GIS, staff identify that pumping less from specific wells allows groundwater levels to recover. Water conservation also supported a 25% reduction in pumping. Fig 2

3

Integrating data from SCADA systems, weather stations, and in-situ sensors confirms deep well pumping has no impact on shallow wells, but rain raises levels in shallow & medium wells. Fig 3

Lessons Learned

1

The new state groundwater policy revealed more opportunities than challenges to Soquel Creek Water District. Data integrity, modeling & source water diversification increases resilience.

2

Increased data quality, access, and analytical capacity better positions the utility and its 10 basin partners to maintain better groundwater accounting and reporting.

3

Adequate water supply may slow population growth, which doesn't seem to be stopping. Development will consider future abandonment of coastal wells and constructing pumps further inland.

Something Unique

Within the same platform, metadata on the construction details of a a well: materials, drilling method, screened aquifers, and equipment can be stored. The drilling profile feature even includes a lithology tab.

Who Should Consider

Any agency or utility that monitors and manages groundwater, but especially those that will face droughts and water supply shortages.

Last Updated

Mar 25th, 2022
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