Santa Cruz County

Seawater Intrusion Threatens Water Quality

Seawater Intrusion Threatens Water Quality

SOQUEL, Calif.-- Soquel Creek Water District has an over-drafted basin already. That means it is taking more water out than is actually going in every year. During this drought, people are using more water than they normally would in winter, so there's nothing going back into the basin for recharge. Since fresh water levels are so low, more seawater is seeping in. Seawater intrusion is one of Soquel Creek Water District's critical challenges. Crews monitor their 75 wells closely, year round, to make sure the water doesn't get contaminated.

"Do More to Use Less", a five-word slogan you can't miss at the Soquel Creek Water District's building, and they're preaching it far and wide.

"If the drought ends tomorrow, our problems do not. We need people to continue to conserve and do everything they can to help us with this issue, once the water is no longer the front page news," said Kim Adamson, general manager at Soquel Creek Water District.

One of Soquel Creek's biggest challenges is keeping the water from becoming contaminated, because it's dangerous for everyone living in the water district.

"You can't drink seawater. You can't use it for irrigation it will kill anything you put it on and it will kill anything you put it in," said Adamson.

District crews monitor their water wells day and night because they "have already found seawater intrusion in both ends of our district. It has not hit our production wells yet," said Adamson.

The Soquel Creek Water District says this not only will affect their wells. But private wells too. Now they are looking for a solution, one that could cost up to $100 million.

"Seawater barrier where you take recycled water and you inject it into the ground to build up a wall between the fresh water and sea water. It basically builds up a big enough wall that it holds sea water out," said Adamson.

Seawater intrudes because it's heavier than fresh water, and with the fresh water level dropping, sea water can push right through. but even if by some miracle we broke the drought tomorrow, Soquel Creek Water District "would still have the issue of an over-drafted basin which is a long term problem," said Adamson.?

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