Santa Cruz IRWM Projects

Project implementation began in 2008 to address high priority needs identified in the region's IRWM Plan (2005). Projects are summarized below by water resource issue; though numerous projects address more than issue. 
  • Water Supply 
  • Water Quality 
  • Flood/Stormwater Management
  • Watershed/Aquatic Ecosystems
Funding for these projects is provided, in part, through the competitive IRWM grant program with funds from the State Water Resources Control Board and the local partner agencies.

The list of projects included in the 2014 IRWM Plan is available here.

Previously completed projects are summarized below.

Water Supply Projects

Davenport Drinking Water Improvement 

1-page summary

Lead Agency: Davenport County Sanitation District

Schedule: April 2008 – February  2012

Project Description: The District upgraded an existing treatment facility to supply water to the residents Davenport. The facility treats surface water diverted from San Vicente and Mill Creeks. The former facility did not meet state drinking water health standards. The District installed an improved filtration system and a larger capacity water tank to increase storage.


Conjunctive Use and Enhanced Aquifer Recharge 

1-page summary

Lead Agency: County of Santa Cruz, Environmental Health Services

Schedule: April 2008 – March 2013

Project Description: To identify approaches and projects for conjunctive use and enhanced aquifer recharge. “Conjunctive use” means the active, coordinated management of both surface water and groundwater to maximize their benefits, particularly to water supply. Surface and groundwater differ in the availability, quality, management needs and cost of development and use. The project includes studies to evaluate alternatives and determine their feasibility.


Scotts Valley Recycled Water Distribution System 

1-page summary

Lead Agency: Scotts Valley Water District

Schedule: April 2008 – December 2011

Project Description: This project expanded the existing recycled water distribution system in Scotts Valley to new areas and users. Scotts Valley has a state- of-the-art water recycling facility capable of providing high quality, treated wastewater suitable for landscape irrigation. Expanding the recycled delivery network enables increased use of recycled water for landscape irrigation and decrease use of groundwater for irrigation.


Polo Grounds Well, Treatment Plant, Pipelines, and Water Conservation 

1-page summary

Lead Agency: Soquel Creek Water District

Schedule: April 2008 – March 2012

Project Description: The District is redistributing a portion of its groundwater pumping to inland locations away from the coastal wells to reduce the threat of seawater intrusion into groundwater aquifers. An existing irrigation well was converted to a supply well and a treatment facility constructed. A water main and sanitary sewer line were installed to serve the water treatment system. A weather based irrigation systems was installed at the park for water conservation. Partners include the County Sanitation District and Parks Department.


Groundwater Monitoring Wells 

1-page summary

Lead Agency: Soquel Creek Water District 

Schedule: April 2008 – December  2011

Project Description: The District installed new monitoring wells to record inland groundwater levels. This improves the ability to evaluate the impacts of local pumping on groundwater levels and understanding of local aquifers. The data benefits the district, the Central Water District, the County of Santa Cruz, and private well operators in the vicinity by filling data gaps in the network and enabling more informed decision making.


Intake Evaluation for Desalination Facility 

1-page summary

Lead Agencies: City of Santa Cruz and the Soquel Creek Water District

Schedule: April 2008 – November 2011

Project Description: This project provides critical design parameters for the source water intake structure for a regional desalination project being pursued by the City of Santa Cruz and Soquel Creek Water District. The intake study addresses system performance as well as environmental concerns. It is a comprehensive investigation into the viability of an open-ocean intake versus a subsurface intake for a proposed desalination facility. The study assesses system performance as well as environmental concerns. Information on this joint effort is available at www.scwd2desal.org.


Groundwater Recharge Projects and Policies 

1-page summary

Lead Agency: County of Santa Cruz, Environmental Health Services

Schedule: April 2008 – March 2013

Project Description: Implement small-scale groundwater recharge projects and establish policies and ordinances to protect and enhance groundwater recharge in groundwater basins. Projects include culvert redesign and improvement, creating grassy swales, use of retention and detention ponds to capture stormwater runoff. Work includes the review and update of County policies, programs and regulations to enhance requirements and incentives for protection and restoration of recharge during new development and remodel projects.


Water Quality Projects

Aptos Sewer Transmission Main Relocation 

1-page summary

Lead Agency: County of Santa Cruz, Sanitation District

Schedule: April 2008 – March 2013

Project Description: The District replaced a faulty sanitary sewer transmission line located in Monterey Bay offshore of New Brighton and Seacliff State Beaches. The pressurized pipeline ruptured several times in the past, spewing sewage into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. To prevent possibility of future sewage spills, a new sanitary sewer transmission line was installed inland and upgrades were made to facilities and equipment at multiple pump stations along the transmission line.


Santa Cruz County Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program 

1-page summary

Lead Agency: County of Santa Cruz, Public Works

Schedule: April 2008 – March 2013

Project Description: This project is to reduce polluted runoff discharging into Monterey Bay. This is part of a larger multi-agency effort to reduce polluted runoff and comply with state and federal regulations. The work was implemented in partnership with the Coastal Watershed CouncilEcology Action, and the County Sanitation District. Partial funding was provided to support:


Abandoned Well Destruction Program 

1-page summary

Lead Agency: County of Santa Cruz, Environmental Health Services

Schedule: April 2008 – March 2013


Project Description: 16 wells were destroyed through this effort which included identifying, prioritizing and destroying old and abandoned wells that were potential conduits for contaminants in the upper soil to pollute groundwater aquifers. Due to patterns of land development and conversion from agricultural to urban, some old wells are situated in urban settings where potential contaminants are located. As an incentive, a cost-share was available to assist landowners with the cost of well destruction.

Flood and Stormwater Management Projects

Aptos Watershed Drainage Master Plan 

1-page summary

Lead Agency: County of Santa Cruz, Public Works

Schedule: April 2008 – June 2013

Project Description: The County prepared a drainage master plan for the Aptos Creek watershed and adjoining urban and coastal areas (Flood Control and Water Conservation District Zones 5 and 6). This includes the urban areas of Soquel Creek, Noble Gulch, Rodeo Gulch and Arana Gulch. Work included field-verification of drainage infrastructure and condition, evaluations of the drainage systems and analysis of the watershed and the proposed improvements. The Master Plan assesses stormwater flows and facilitates development of policies and projects to manage flooding, reduce channel erosion, promote groundwater recharge and improve stormwater quality.

Watershed Stewardship and Aquatic Ecosystems

Integrated Watershed Restoration Program (IWRP, Phase 2)

1-page summary

Lead Agency: Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County

Schedule: April 2008 – March 2013

Project Description: This is the second phase of the highly effective Integrated Watershed Restoration Program. IRWP facilitates and coordinates projects to improve fish and wildlife habitat and water quality in Santa Cruz County watersheds using a voluntary, non-regulatory approach. Phase 2 included the implementation of 39 watershed enhancement projects, erosion control projects, habitat restoration projects, watershed education programs, and a permit coordination program to promote voluntary participation in long-term watershed restoration.


Watsonville Sloughs Integrated Watershed Restoration 

1-page summary

Lead Agency: Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County

Schedule: April 2008 – March 2013

Project Description: This includes numerous projects to restore and enhance wetlands and native habitats in the Watsonville Sloughs. Work includes improving the existing system of agricultural and stormwater drainage and habitat restoration to benefit water quality and habitat in the sloughs. Partners include Watsonville Wetlands Watch, Land Trust of Santa Cruz County and the City of Watsonville.


Other Multi-benefit Projects

Coordinated Monitoring Program 

1-page summary

Lead Agency: County of Santa Cruz, Environmental Health Services

Schedule: April 2008 – March 2013

Project Description: The purpose of this project was to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of the Santa Cruz IRWM projects through a status and trends analysis of environmental indicators. The objective of this project was derived from the original Proposition 50 IRWM guidelines, which required IRWM programs to evaluate the effectiveness of individual components as they are implemented as well as the integrated strategy as a whole, and to establish a framework for ongoing monitoring and evaluation efforts. 


Expand Integration of Regional Water Management


Lead Agency: County of Santa Cruz, Environmental Health Services

Schedule: April 2008 – March 2013

Project Description:  This project aimed to expand and improve regional water management and inform future efforts. A steering committee, composed of IRWM partner agency representatives, led the effort to work with local partners and stakeholders to identify planning priorities, future opportunities and regional issues. Work included quantifying seasonal water supply and demand, assessing infrastructure capabilities and limitations, and identifying potential effects of climate change for effective future water resources planning.