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North County Water Districts to Explore Consolidation

(FEB 2, 2021) SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, CA – The San Lorenzo Valley Water District (SLVWD) and Scotts Valley Water District (SVWD) today announced their respective boards of directors will consider exploring the possibility of consolidating the agencies’ operations in the future.

Staff from SVWD and SLVWD meet regularly to discuss issues of mutual concern and find ways to enhance the efficiency of both agencies through collaborative efforts. Staff from both water districts agree there is the potential of substantial benefits by joining the two agencies.

“This is a collaborative effort to consider what is best for our customers, our water supply and our environment now and into the future,” SLVWD Manager Rick Rogers said. “It’s a good time to consider our options and have a conversation with the community.”

“We think we have complimentary strengths that are worth a public review for potential to benefit customers and employees of both districts,” SVWD Manager Piret Harmon said. “Specific benefits of merged operation could mean economies of scale, improved levels of customer service and more opportunities for employees.”

SLVWD and SVWD both draw water from the Santa Margarita Groundwater Basin, a series of aquifers in the region. They also are connected through an intertie system, allowing them to share water during emergency situations.

Boards from both water districts will learn more about the consolidation process when Joe Serrano, executive officer of the Santa Cruz Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) provides an overview presentation about the consolidation process at each district’s respective board meeting. SLVWD meets Thursday, Feb. 4, and SVWD will meet Thursday, Feb. 11.

“LAFCOs were created to support how municipal services, such as water, are delivered. It is encouraging to see that the two water districts continue to collectively search for ways to ensure that their constituents have adequate water supply through a strong level of service,” Serrano said. “Consolidation is simply another tool that districts can utilize to improve how water is delivered.”

The process of consolidation, which is facilitated by LAFCO, begins with an exploratory phase of at least one year that includes an analysis of both districts and input from a stakeholder group that includes representatives from both districts. If the feasibility study is favorable to consolidation, the districts can apply for a change of governance with LAFCO. There would be multiple opportunities for public engagement and feedback, followed by a specified period during which customers would have an opportunity to support or oppose the proposal. Following public review, the two boards could only approve consolidation if it is not opposed by a majority of ratepayers.

The SLVWD board meets at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 4.
 

ABOUT THE SAN LORENZO VALLEY WATER DISTRICT
The San Lorenzo Valley Water District was established in 1941 as an independent special district. The District is governed by a five-member Board of Directors, elected at-large from within the District’s service area. A special district is a local government agency formed by voters to perform a needed service, such as water or sewer. The District’s boundaries comprise approximately 60 square miles and 190 miles of pipeline. The District currently provides service to approximately 7,900 residential, commercial, and institutional connections. The District relies on both surface water and groundwater resources, including nine currently active stream diversions, one groundwater spring, and eight active groundwater wells. The District owns, operates, and maintains two water systems from separate water sources. These sources are derived solely from rainfall within the San Lorenzo River watershed. The District owns, operates, and maintains a wastewater system in Boulder Creek’s Bear Creek Estates, which serves approximately 56 homes. For more information, call (831) 338-2153, or go to www.slvwd.com.

ABOUT SCOTTS VALLEY WATER DISTRICT
Scotts Valley Water District is a community-owned public agency that delivers a sustainable, reliable high-quality water service in an environmentally responsible and financially sound manner. The District provides water service to approximately 4,000 connections over six square miles including most of the City of Scotts Valley and a portion of the unincorporated area north of the city limits. Like the community it serves, Scotts Valley Water District places a high value on livability, innovation and adaptability. Through partnership with the community, strategic investment in resources and pursuit of new ideas, Scotts Valley Water District is redefining its historic role in order to meet future challenges and turn them into opportunities. Learn more at www.svwd.org, on Facebook and on Instagram.