The desalination plant sites proposed for the Santa Cruz project.
Call it another, smaller victory for opponents of the $120-plus million desal plant project in Santa Cruz, in the wake of Measure P's success. The Santa Cruz City Council voted last week to approve some—but not all—of the $390,000 the water department requested for the project’s next steps.
Water director Bill Kocher had requested the money to finish the plant’s environmental impact report and community outreach on desalination’s behalf, but some councilmembers had reservations.
“I just have some concerns about spending some of that money upfront without understanding why we need to,” vice mayor Hilary Bryant told Kocher.
Council agreed to cover costs for the EIR’s first draft, which is expected this spring—about a year and a half after the report’s original due date. But they also voted unanimously not to approve the outreach spending to inform the public about the plant. Council’s decision sends the revised item back to the Soquel Creek Water Board and to the Desal Task Force, both of which had already approved the funding the first time around. Logically, cost estimates will now go down.