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City of Santa Monica Proposes Drilling Exploratory Groundwater Wells


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

July 11, 2017 -- The City of Santa Monica is proposing to drill three 600-foot deep wells to hunt for more groundwater as well as to plug and replace an under-performing well as it moves toward becoming completely independent of imported water by 2020.

On the City Council’s agenda tonight is a motion asking for approval of a $419,000 contract (with a $547,545 contingency) to Yellow Jacket Drilling, a California company, for the job.

The new drilling would be at the Colorado Maintenance Yard, the Santa Monica Airport, and on a City-owned parcel on 19th Street near Santa Monica College, the report to the council said.

None of the sites have been drilled for groundwater in the past. The replacement well will be located along Olympic Boulevard.

In her report to the council, Susan Cline, City director of public Works and water resources, said the work has two purposes. The first is obtain subsurface data on water under the hydrogeological conditions of the coastal sub-basin.

The second goal is to increase groundwater production from the City’s Olympic Wellfield by “replacing an ineffectual existing well,” according to her report.

Santa Monica typically relies on wells to supply about 70 percent of the water used by its estimated 17,847 customers, with the remainder purchased and imported from Metropolitan Water District’s supply from the Colorado River and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Earlier this year, officials reported a 10 percent cut in reliance of MWD water, due primarily to conservation, winter rain and a surprise increase in its yield from groundwater ("Groundwater Supply for Santa Monica Helps Yield 'Encouraging' News," March 9, 2017).

However, City Water Manager Gil Borboa noted there are no guarantees of a repeat, or better, performance in the near future due the unpredictability of groundwater and rain.

Santa Monica relies heavily on groundwater from ten wells pumping water from the Santa Monica Basin. The City's wells are in the Charnock, Arcadia and Olympic sub-basins and range in capacity from 200 gallons per minute of flow to 1,675 gallons per minute.

It also relies on recycled dry weather urban runoff produced at the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility (SMURRF).

The City’s 2014 Sustainable Water Master Plan (SWMP) aims to be self-sufficient in its water use by 2020 ("Santa Monica Moves Forward with Water Self-Sufficiency Plan," November 19, 2012).

To do so, it is maintaining a strict conservation program, continuing the reuse of “non-traditional” resources like brackish/saline impaired groundwater, recycled municipal wastewater, dry and wet weather runoff and boosting local groundwater production.

Data from the drillings will help the City better determine how much groundwater it can rely on in the future, the report said.

The Olympic Wellfield boring would be in a median on Olympic Boulevard near Stewart Street.

Specifically, the Airport boring would be located at the Santa Monica Airport, 3223 Donald Douglas Loop South, approximately 430 feet southeast of Ashland Avenue and Clover Street.

The Colorado Yards boring is in the staff parking lot. The City-owned parcel boring would be at 2018 19th Street, about 290 feet northwest of the intersection of Pico Boulevard and 19th Street.

Work would likely start later this summer and be completed by early winter 2017.

“In order to expedite work and minimize the potential for protracted inconvenience to the community, the drilling contractor would be required to operate two drill rigs simultaneously,” the report said.

Before the drilling, notices in English and Spanish would be mailed to residents and businesses within a 500-foot radius of each drilling site.

As part of the contract, the contractor must obey the City’s limits on noise and construction policies, Cline said.


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