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Scotts Valley Water District Seeks to Consolidate the San Lorenzo Valley Water District

Staff report

The San Lorenzo Valley Water District’s (SLVWD) board of directors will explore the possibility of a consolidation with the Scotts Valley Water District during the SLVWD February 4 meeting. The effort was initiated by Scotts Valley Water District.

An SLVWD board memo dated February 4 states, “In recent meetings, staff of SVWD suggested there may be substantial benefits if the two agencies could be joined. SLVWD staff agrees, and accordingly, staff is seeking Board direction regarding whether to proceed with exploring a possible consolidation.”

The consolidation of public agencies requires a public process overseen by LAFCO, the Santa Cruz Local Agency Formation Commission. The process involves 6 phases – consideration, initiation, evaluation, meetings, proceedings, and recordation.

If the SLV Water District chooses to move forward, a stakeholder group with representatives from both districts will be formed, consultants will be hired, feasibility studies will be disseminated, and an application to LAFCO will be initiated.

After an application is complete, the districts will conduct public relations outreach and public meetings will begin. The protest period will run 21 to 60 days. If less than 25% of ratepayers protest, then the application is approved. If between 25 and 50% protest, then the issues will go to a special election. If more than 50% of ratepayers protest, then the process terminates. Those percentage points apply to all San Lorenzo Valley and Scotts Valley registered voters combined.

The issue of water resources and management between the two districts has been contentious in the past. Scotts Valley is pro-growth, while the San Lorenzo Valley is no-growth by local government and planning dictates. As a matter of policy, the county and the state have long wanted to move past locally managed water districts as fewer and larger districts are more easily handled. The downside is that the local community can be prevented from having a say in the use of their water resources.

Currently, the bulk of the Santa Margarita groundwater basin overdraft is borne by Scotts Valley. The San Lorenzo Valley has abundant surface water sources. Because of that, discussions by the SLVWD board in the past have centered around a pricing structure for the sale of water to Scotts Valley – a solution which solves a growing Scotts Valley’s water deficits yet keeps control of San Lorenzo Valley water in the SLV.

Another potential roadblock to consolidation may involve the 2008 settlement agreement for the purchase of Felton’s water system then owned by Cal Am. The SLV Water District agreed to restrictions in order to assure Felton residents that their water system and lands would remain protected. Activists supporting the takeover of the Felton system by the SLV Water District campaigned on a message of local control and equitable representation.

If you go:

The SLVWD board meets at Thursday, February 4 at 5:30 p.m. to open their meeting, then enters closed session. Members of the public who are interested in learning more about the consolidation process and to comment should join in at 6:30pm.

Join the meeting online: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82075782498 or call +1 669 900 6833 Webinar ID: 820 7578 2498

SLV Water District agenda 11A: EXPLORATION OF POSSIBLE CONSOLIDATION OF SAN LORENZO VALLEY WATER DISTRICT WITH SCOTTS VALLEY WATER DISTRICT.

Board packet, see pages, 3 and 5-15 https://www.slvwd.com/sites/g/files/vyhlif1176/f/agendas/bod_meeting_agenda.2.4.21_with_backup.pdf

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3 Thoughts to “Scotts Valley Water District Seeks to Consolidate the San Lorenzo Valley Water District”

  1. Elaine Fresco

    The SLVWD Board meeting starts at 6:30, not 5:30 on Thursday.

    1. slvpost

      Thanks Elaine. The board meeting starts at 5:30 and enters closed session. Open session begins at 6:30 at which point the board will begin discussion on the consolidation effort.

  2. Nancy Macy

    Dear Jayme, Thank you for your careful illucidation of so many issues related to the potential for an SLV-SV Water merger. There is one issue that needs a caveat. In this statement, “Currently, the bulk of the Santa Margarita groundwater basin overdraft is borne by Scotts Valley. The San Lorenzo Valley has abundant surface water sources. Because of that, discussions by the SLVWD board in the past have centered around a pricing structure for the sale of water to Scotts Valley – a solution which solves a growing Scotts Valley’s water deficits yet keeps control of San Lorenzo Valley water in the SLV” it is accurate in explaining Scotts Valley’s greater responsibiity for the overdraft of the Santa Margarita Aquifer, and why it would like to merge. However, while there are a number of surface water sources, the amount of water is no longer “abundant” except during heavy rain years. With climate change, the dry years such the water surfaces dry, while the wet years bring atmospheric rivers causing floods and severe erosion events. One major concern in a merger is the very loss of control that you mention because, depending upon the point of view of those elected to the Board, surface water could be diverted to Scotts Valley’s growing population to the point that creeks and the River could not provide adequate stream flow for endangered salmonids and other riparian wildlife. It behooves the citizens of the SLV to continue their support for restoration of the aquifer (that actually does help maintain surface water levels in some areas) while supporting the goal of restoring fish habitat year round. Of course with so much damage to the SLV lands especially above the town of Boulder Creek and in Fall Creek, those surface waters are severely threatened and will be many years being restored. It is irresponsible for the SLV to be considering a merger with SV when the dire needs of those in the Big Basin Water District are unmet — and a merger there would make a lot more sense. Respectfully yours, Nancy Macy

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