Soquel Creek declares groundwater emergency; stops short of calling for moratorium

At their June 3rd meeting, the Soquel Creek Water District (SCWD) Board voted to move forward with declaring a Stage 3 water shortage emergency with a unanimous vote. Measures and actions under a Stage 3 will closely dovetail elements within the upcoming Water Use Reduction Program that is being developed and SCWD’s water waste ordinance. The Board also voted to move forward with declaring a groundwater emergency but stopped short of declaring a full moratorium on water service for new construction and remodels. Instead, the Board will explore additional options to strengthen the Water Demand Offset (WDO) Program, a move that is likely to garner more public support, and has asked SCWD staff to present information at its next meeting on June 17th.

The decision to declare a groundwater emergency, which was made along a 3-2 vote, goes a step further than stage 3 restrictions, and sets the stage for intriguing dialogue with the County, which is unlikely to recognize the declaration. Board members Bruce Daniels and Bruce Jaffe led the vote, in the face of strong public opposition, but gave different responses as to why. Director Daniels was open about the need to draw more attention to the situation, citing poll numbers that show most SCWD residents are uninformed about where their water comes from, and therefore have little grasp on the severity of situation. He said “it needs to be on the front page of the paper”, in regards to a declared emergency, if only a symbolic public relations gesture. Director Jaffe was more pragmatic, and explained his vote as a step towards opening up as many potential options for addressing the problem as possible. He cited additional measures SCWD could take under a declared groundwater emergency in addition to the stage 3 restrictions.

SCCBC will continue to monitor the discussion and provide updates as appropriate.