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Santa Cruz Judge rules the city is “not obligated” to provide water to UC Santa Cruz

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KMUV) Santa Cruz judge ruled that the City of Santa Cruz is "not legally obligated" to provide water to the University of California, Santa Cruz, outside of the city's water service boundaries.

As of right now, the UCSC north campus falls outside of the City of Santa Cruz's water services, and the City is requiring UCSC to file for water services with the Santa Cruz County Local Agency Formation Commission before delivering water to the areas outside of their jurisdiction.

The University filed a lawsuit against the City of Santa Cruz back in October 2020, claiming that their contract in 1962 and 1965 "obligated the city to provide the University with sufficient water to accommodate all future campus development regardless of whether the development took place within City limits or beyond City limits in the north campus area."

However, in a press release, the City said, "the two contracts simply required the City to provide water delivery infrastructure of a specified capacity to the University campus border and to bill the University at rates comparable to other water customers. The University acknowledged that the City had historically complied with these two contractual commitments and continues to do so today."

In a statement sent to KION, the University clarified that the disagreement is not about the campus water usage, claiming they've significantly reduced their use over the past 15 years and make up only 6% of the demand during the academic year.

"UC Santa Cruz is only asking that the City of Santa Cruz fulfill the promises it made when it sought to persuade the Regents to build a campus in Santa Cruz—promises set out in plain language—to provide water service," the statement read. "Providing water service to all parts of our residential campus would help UC Santa Cruz build housing, classrooms, and space for research and creative scholarship and fulfill its commitment to the local community and faculty, staff, and students. We are disappointed with the court’s ruling and are determining our next steps."

Like most UCs across the state, UCSC facing a major housing crisis on campus and last year approved a plan to increase student housing and expand child care services. This could possibly delay those plans.

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Melody Waintal

Melody Waintal is the Digital Content Director for and


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