Stinson Beach seeking to draw less from creek

05/04/2017

The Stinson Beach County Water District is hoping to use a new well in order to rely less on creek water, an effort to reduce environmental impacts and better prepare for both drought conditions and high summer demand. The district just applied for a coastal permit for the $150,000 project, funded by the Bay Area Drought Relief Program, to start pulling water from a test well it recently drilled. In the past two or three decades, two-thirds of the district’s water supply has come from creeks. But that amount has dwindled to about half in recent years, for multiple reasons. In 2005, the district drew up an urban water management plan—a voluntary effort, as the state only requires such plans from larger water suppliers—that recommended seeking more groundwater “to prepare for the multiple consecutive dry year scenario.” Well water is also considered more environmentally friendly, since creek intakes can impact aquatic life. “Our local community is very environmentally aware,” said Ed Schmidt, the district’s general manager. He added that, over the past 10 years, state water officials have been encouraging water suppliers to reduce creek draws as much as possible. The shift could also help in the summer months, Mr. Schmidt said, as that’s when demand is highest, particularly from the district’s largest customer: the National Park Service, which uses about four percent of the district’s water. The project follows up on a 2011 effort; that year, the district drilled a well near one of its water tanks, but it did not produce much water, at only seven gallons a minute. A 220-foot-deep test well recently dug at the water treatment plant on Laurel Avenue produced between 20 to 40 gallons per minute. “That’s excellent, and the water quality is excellent too,” Mr. Schmidt said. Once the well is in production, he estimated that about two-thirds of the district’s supply will come from groundwater.