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What is the Hollister Urban Area Water Project?

The Hollister Urban Area Water Project (HUAWP) is the next phase in a series of water projects to improve the Hollister area’s water quality and supply. The Lessalt Water Treatment Plant (WTP) was a first step more than 10 years ago. The next step is to increase the use of high-quality surface water with the West Hills WTP and an upgrade of the Lessalt WTP.

What is the purpose of the project?

The primary goal of the HUAWP is to improve the quality and reliability of our drinking water to ensure a better economy and ensure a better quality of life for the residents of our community.

How will the HUAWP improve my water quality?

The Project will improve the quality of our drinking water supply by maximizing the use of surface water from a variety of sources, including Central Valley Project (CVP) water. Surface water has less minerals and other salts than groundwater because groundwater is in contact with geologic formations for a longer period of time than surface water.

Will I still need to use a water softener?

After the HUAWP is completed our water supply will have a much lower mineral content than we currently experience. In most areas a water softener will not be needed. However, individual preferences vary dramatically. Using a water softener is a highly subjective decision.

How much will the HUAWP cost and who will pay for it?

Currently, the estimated cost of the projects is about $30 million, but the San Benito County Water District (SBCWD) will contribute $10 million toward reducing the cost.  The remaining costs will be paid for by the water customers of the City of Hollister and the Sunnyslope County Water District over a period of about 30 years.

How will Hollister area water customers benefit from the project?

The HUAWP will have these direct benefits for residents:

  • High-quality water with less salt
  • Eliminates the need for water softeners
  • Longer life for appliances
  • Less need to buy bottled water because taste will be improved due to lower salt content

Will reduced deliveries of CVP water (surface water) affect the proposed project?

During drought periods surface water allocations from the CVP, determined by the Bureau of Reclamation, are often reduced. However, municipal and industrial (M&I) allocations have a higher reliability than agriculture during drought.  The SBCWD has a plan to prepare for potential reductions in supply by banking water in commercial water banks and cooperating with water agencies to purchase water from irrigation districts that traditionally sell water during a drought.

How will improved water quality help with wastewater discharge compliance?

By improving the water quality of water going into homes and businesses, the wastewater leaving the homes is of better quality and can be treated to a higher quality at the water reclamation plants.

The Hollister Wastewater Reclamation Plant has improved wastewater discharges and will eventually be able to produce recycled water for agricultural use, stretch local water supplies and protect the groundwater basin.  The ongoing upgrades to the Ridgemark Wastewater Treatment Plant will allow the Sunnyslope County Water District to meet its discharge requirements and also protect the groundwater basin.

Will the project include recycled water for agriculture?

Yes, currently the City’s Reclamation Plant is producing recycled water. However, due to high mineral content in our present water supply (groundwater) many people own water softeners in the Hollister Urban Area. The salty brine created after a water softener regenerates soft water enters our sewer system and we end up with poor quality recycled water.  By using more surface water for our drinking water supply water softeners will not be needed. The combination of surface water and fewer water softeners will help us produce high-quality recycled water that can be used to irrigate high-value crops.

How will the project and enhance the local groundwater basin?

By using surface water with fewer minerals, wastewater discharge from the reclamation plant will also have a lower mineral content. This will reduce the amount of additional minerals percolating into our groundwater supply and help protect our groundwater basin.

What if we do nothing?

If we do nothing to improve our local water quality, we most likely will face fines and penalties and be forced to provide water supply improvements under orders from state regulators.  This could be more costly for ratepayers and harm the local economy. Taking no action is not considered a viable option.