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February 25, 2021

North County water districts explore consolidation

SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS—Today the San Lorenzo Valley Water District (SLVWD) and Scotts Valley Water District (SVWD) announced their respective boards of directors will consider possibly consolidating the agencies’ operations in the future.

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 Feb. 4, and SVWD will meet 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.”

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.”

Said SVWD Manager Piret Harmon: “We think we have complementary strengths that are worth a public review for potential to benefit customers and employees of both districts. 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.

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 5:30pm on Feb. 4.

Join the meeting online: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82075782498

or call +1 669 900 6833

Webinar ID: 820 7578 2498

The SVWD board meets at 6pm on Feb. 11.

Join the meeting online: https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/488730213

or call (646) 749-3122

Access Code 488-730-213