One of the public misconceptions about the desalination plant is that Santa Cruz residents will consume desalinated water only in drought years. The truth is Santa Cruz residents will be drinking desalinated water year-in and year-out. Very little, if any, desalinated water will arrive in the pipes to Soquel Creek District. The Notice of Preparation for the Desal project’s environmental review states that desalinated water will enter the City’s water distribution system near the site of the desal plant, on Delaware Ave. Click here to see the City’s map of desalinated water distribution. Soquel Creek District will receive Santa Cruz water from the Graham Hill Treatment Plant (stream water).
The plan calls for Soquel Creek District to pay for the operation of the plant on a continuous basis, except six months during a drought year, when Santa Cruz will pick up the tab and suspend water shipments to Soquel. But no matter who pays for the water, Santa Cruz residents will be drinking it every day of every year.
This may raise questions for businesses that care about the taste or quality of the water, breweries, for example. And it raises questions about the safety of the water in areas of the City where desalinated water mixes with stream water in the City’s pipes. The report from the Santa Cruz Pilot desal plant noted that unacceptable levels of trihalomethanes (a carcinogen) are formed when desalinated water with high bromide levels mixes with water from streams. Read more about the Pilot project’s testing for trihalomethanes.