Connecting Waterpeople

Black & Veatch to help Northern California Water District replenish stressed groundwater basin

  • Black & Veatch to help Northern California Water District replenish stressed groundwater basin
  • Sustainable design-build project will recycle up to 490 million gallons of water per year, helping to reduce groundwater basin over-drafting, protect against seawater intrusion and deliver environmental benefits.

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Black & Veatch
Black & Veatch is an employee-owned, global leader in building critical human infrastructure in Energy, Water, Telecommunications and Government Services.
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Facing a dwindling water supply due to historic overdraft and climate change-fueled drought, Northern California’s Soquel Creek Water District is turning to an advanced recycled water purification system, delivered in part by engineering leader Black & Veatch, to help drive sustainable groundwater supply management and meet the state’s sustainability mandate.

The Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors recently approved the next phases of its progressive design-build agreement with Black & Veatch to build treatment facilities and associated infrastructure to help replenish groundwater supplies – the sole source of water for the District’s more than 40,400 residents – impacted by over-drafting and seawater intrusion.

The project, Pure Water Soquel, will recycle up to 490 million gallons of water per year from the Santa Cruz Wastewater Treatment Facility (SCWWTF) by processing it through an advanced water purification center before pumping it back into the groundwater basin.

Black & Veatch completed Phase 1, which included design of the treatment facilities and preconstruction activities, and now has the green light to move on to Phases 2 and 3, which will involve construction, startup and commissioning services, and warranty for the treatment facilities. The treatment facilities include a source-water pump station and tertiary treatment facility at the SCWWTF, as well as the advanced water purification facility (AWPF) located at a second site.

The project, Pure Water Soquel, will recycle up to 490 million gallons of water per year from the Santa Cruz Wastewater Treatment Facility (SCWWTF)

“This is a unique project in that it’s split into treatment facilities at two sites,” said Dave Carlson, Black & Veatch Vice President and Client Director. “What makes it even more unique is the community aspect of the project, including inter-agency collaboration. The ability to collaborate and work together is immensely valuable when it comes to ensuring the resilience of regional water supplies in an area that is completely reliant on local water supplies.”

Pure Water Soquel is a key component of the region’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan. The Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Basin is classified by the California Department of Water Resources as one of 21 “critically over-drafted” basins in the state and must meet the state sustainability mandate by 2040. Seawater intrusion occurs when the groundwater levels become too low to prevent seawater from creeping inland and ruining aquifers. Even with significant water conservation measures in place, the current drought is intensifying the challenge.

“This is a historic project grounded in environmental stewardship that will also ensure economic vitality and support a thriving community for residents, businesses and tourists – for current and future generations,” said Ron Duncan, General Manager of the Soquel Creek Water District. “Pure Water Soquel will not only reduce the overdraft conditions in the basin but will protect against further seawater intrusion and promote beneficial reuse by reducing discharge of treated wastewater into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.”

When completed in 2023, the project will produce up to 1,500 acre-feet per year of purified water from the AWPF and additional 300 acre-feet per year of Title 22 unrestricted, non-potable recycled water from tertiary treatment.

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