Our Water Future Requires Vision

Support the Hollister Urban Area Water Project

by Robert Swanson
BenitoLink, Tuesday, 07/30/2013 – 09:01am

The health and prosperity of San Benito County has always depended on a reliable source of water. As a former member of the San Benito County Water District and a lifelong resident of this area, I know that developing a reliable water supply requires vision and commitment.

The construction of the Paicines Canal and Reservoir in 1913, Hernandez Reservoir in 1962, and the approval and implementation of the San Felipe Project in 1977 are examples of sound, long-range vision and leadership. Water managers and elected officials knew that these projects were critical in protecting our local groundwater basin and providing enough water for residents and our agricultural community. The San Felipe Project brought water from the Central Valley Project into San Benito County and allowed our agricultural community to flourish.

A plan is now under way to maintain and protect our local water resources and ensure that current and future generations can continue to enjoy the high quality of life we have in the Hollister area. The Hollister Urban Area Water Project builds upon the past efforts of civic leaders to protect our groundwater basin, and make sure it is available during times of drought.

The Hollister Urban Area Water Project has been in the works for more than a decade. It is a collaborative effort by three local agencies, the San Benito County Water District, City of Hollister, and Sunnyslope County Water District, to solve a regional problem. By increasing the capacity to treat water imported from the Central Valley Project, residents throughout Hollister, including the west side of Hollister will receive higher-quality, better-tasting water.

This high-quality water will reduce the need for water softeners and it will provide better tasting water. Another important benefit is that better drinking water will also improve the quality of the wastewater discharged by our local treatment plants.

The improvement to the wastewater discharge is critical. Wastewater discharged locally is percolated back into our groundwater basin, which is naturally high in salts and minerals. By reducing the amount of salt in our wastewater it in turn protects the quality of water in our groundwater basin. Farmers, other well owners, and municipalities also utilize the groundwater basin. Protecting the quality of our groundwater is important to all water users in San Benito County.

Yet another benefit of improved wastewater is that the highly treated water can then be used as recycled water to irrigate high-value crops, instead of being discharged to percolation ponds. The use of recycled water for high-value crops is a common practice in many places, including Monterey County where it is used to irrigate thousands of acres of lettuce and strawberries. This reduces the pressure on surface and groundwater supplies and allows the beneficial reuse of a precious resource.

We rely on water every day in our lives and our livelihoods. We can never take it for granted. The Hollister Urban Area Water Plan provides the type of vision and forethought that our forefathers had when they sought to bring San Felipe Water to the community. We are now again called to make decisions with future generations in mind. Let’s step up and get this project done.

Bob Swanson
Hollister Area Rancher,
Former Director, San Benito County Water District
1987-2010

Our Water Problem Has a Solution

Poor ground water quality can be fixed with the proper technology

by Douglas Keck
BenitoLink, on Tue, 07/23/2013 – 02:01pm

Hollister has an on-going water quality problem.

Most people living in the greater Hollister community would agree with that statement. A solution is being proposed that will provide reliable, high-quality drinking water and support a better quality of life for everyone in our community.

Our groundwater is full of salts and minerals and requires the use of water softeners to deal with the hardness and the purchase of bottled water for drinking. Bottled water and water softeners are expensive. In addition, water softeners use salt that ends up in our wastewater. This prevents our wastewater treatment plants from meeting state discharge requirements, which could result in fines and penalties. The discharge is too salty for irrigation of most crops and must percolate back into the groundwater, further increasing the concentration of salts and minerals. It’s a vicious circle. But there is a solution.

Three local agencies are collaborating on a Hollister Urban Area Water Project (HUAWP), which will increase the water treatment capacity of surface water from the San Luis Reservoir. The City of Hollister, Sunnyslope County Water District and San Benito County Water District are working together on the $30 million project that will upgrade the existing Lessalt Water Treatment Plant and build a new West Hills Water Treatment Plant. It will also construct new pipelines to allow distribution of high-quality drinking water to City of Hollister and Sunnyslope water customers.

While the most prominent result of the project is better-tasting water, there are other benefits too. Higher-quality water will reduce the need for water softeners. Reduced minerals in the water will increase the life of appliances, such as water heaters, clothes washers and dishwashers. Better water will reduce the need to buy bottled water, a significant household expense for many. Cutting down on salt in our wastewater will protect our groundwater basin, which provides vital water storage and is an emergency water source during earthquakes.

Improving our water quality will require increased water rates for many customers. The rate increases will vary, depending on how much water you use and which agency provides your water. A rate calculator for City of Hollister customers is available at http://hollister.ca.gov/Site/html/gov/office/documents/HollisterWebcalc3.swf

The proposed water rates for the Sunnyslope County Water District are available on the District website at http://www.sscwd.org/Sunnyslope_W-WW_Rate_Study_Draft_7-3-13.pdf.

While the project will increase water rates, in many cases the increases will be offset by savings in the form of a reduced need for water softeners and salt, bottled water and appliance replacement.

Reliable and high-quality water is important to a healthy, vibrant community and a stable economy. By improving water quality, we can help to ensure a better quality of life for our entire community now, and for future generations.

Doug Keck
Former board member
San Benito County Water District
Suunyslope County Water District
Retired Educator

Residents Learn about the Hollister Urban Area Water Project at Open House

by Shawn Novack
BenitoLink on Wed, 07/17/2013 – 02:10pm

HOLLISTER, CA — Approximately 30 members of the Hollister area attended an informal Open House meeting held this week at the Veterans Memorial Building to provide information about the Hollister Urban Area Water Project (HUAWP).

The two-hour informational meeting allowed community members to interact directly with staff members from the City of Hollister, Sunnyslope County Water District and San Benito County Water District, who were available to answer questions about the project. The HUAWP is a $30 million project that will improve local water quality, and allow the agencies to meet state wastewater discharge regulations.

During the Open House meeting held July 9, representatives from the three agencies discussed with members of the public the proposed water rate increases, costs and benefits of the project, and the need for the improvement program. “We want our community members and ratepayers to be informed about the project,” said Don Ridenhour, General Manager of the Sunnyslope County Water District. “The informal Open House setting allowed our customers to talk directly with the people who developed the project and get all the information they need.”

Representatives of the three local agencies collaborating on the water improvement project said the event achieved the goal of spreading the word about the project’s importance. “We hope that people who attended the meeting got the information they were looking for,” said Project Manager Harry Blohm. “We are always available to provide the details to any one who is interested. This is a project that will benefit the entire community. We want to make sure people understand it.”

The HUAWP is a joint-effort by the City of Hollister, the San Benito County Water District and the Sunnyslope County Water District that builds upon previous efforts by local water officials to create a sustainable and reliable water supply for the greater Hollister area.

For more information about the Hollister Urban Area Water Project, visit the website at www.hollisterwaterproject.com or E-mail: info@hollisterwaterproject.com or call (831) 637-8218, ext. 189.

Los Resúmenes del Boletín del proyecto Necesitan y los Beneficios del HUAWP

Este boletín de la cuatro-página proporciona una vista general general del Hollister Proyecto Urbano de Agua de Area que proporcionará agua potable de gran calidad a la comunidad entera de Hollister. Incluye detalles de los proyectos planeados, los costos y los beneficios que serán proporcionados.

Haga clic aquí descargar el documento.