Scotts Valley groundwater use slowing down
by Press-Banner
May 14, 2009 | 2098 views | 4 4 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Scotts Valley’s water supply seems to be intact, according to a recent study prepared for the Scotts Valley Water District by Kennedy/Jenks Consultants.

Although the amount of water in the local aquifers has gradually decreased for the past 30 years, recycled water and conservation measures combined with recharge efforts from rainfall have slowed the decline since 2004, the study shows.

“The dramatic decline of 20 years ago is not continuing,” said Mike Maley, a consultant from Kennedy/Jenks. “We’d like to try to bring things up.”

Last week, the district released its annual groundwater management report, which showed that the district has pumped less water from the aquifers since 2004, resulting in only slight declines in local underground water sources since then.

Scotts Valley depleted its groundwater most heavily between 1985 and 1992.

n Between 1985 and 1992, groundwater storage declined at a rate of 500 acre-feet to 2,000 acre-feet each year.

n Between 1993 and 2004, groundwater storage typically declined by between 300 acre-feet and 500 acre-feet each year.

n In 2005 and 2006, water levels increased by more than 500 acre-feet because heavy rainfalls recharged the aquifers. In 2007, the level went down by more than 800 acre-feet, but in 2008, despite a second straight lower-than-average rainfall year, the aquifer levels decreased by slightly more than 100 acre-feet.

The decrease in groundwater production, the study says, is due to a host of factors.

Though the number of water connections within the Scotts Valley Water District continues to increase, the amount of water taken from the aquifers has decreased since 2004.

This is partly because rebate programs encourage residents and businesses to use less water and because district customers are using more recycled water in place of potable water.

This month, the Safeway and Longs shopping center on Mt. Hermon Road will begin using recycled water for irrigation.

In addition, a $700,000 grant will extend three recycled water lines along Scotts Valley Drive, said Charlie McNeish, the water district’s general manager.

To maintain existing groundwater supplies, Kennedy/Jenks recommends continuing and expanding the district’s water conservation programs, including using recycled water for irrigation and construction, and offering rebates to encourage the use of low-flow toilets, artificial grass and energy-efficient washing machines.

Though it means less money in utility fees, McNeish said it’s a smart move for the community.

“We do see that the decreasing water use means decreased revenue,” he said. “But we recognize preserving water in the aquifer is important.”

The district is also studying ways to recharge the aquifers, such as collecting excess storm water or injecting water back into the aquifers.

The district also continues work with the city of Santa Cruz to trade recycled water for potable water. In the trade, a pipeline between Pasatiempo Golf Club and Scotts Valley would furnish the golf course with recycled water in exchange for potable water for Scotts Valley.

The pipeline project is slowly moving forward, and Santa Cruz must change its water rights policy — a complex process with political ramifications — before it can send potable water in Scotts Valley’s direction.

At a glance

To review the annual Scotts Valley groundwater report, visit
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Ben Dover
September 29, 2009
How interesting! now that the Target SEIR is in our ground water use is slowing down.coincidence or spin?
September 26, 2009
Maybe we'll all be recycling our piss soon to drink. The earth is being ruined by human overpopulation.
Efrems bro "Surfer"
June 02, 2009
It's easy to see why its good for Santa Cruz; we get the $$$$. Because the extra water given to Scotts Valley is from rain run off during winter storms which normally goes to the ocean; and the ole man in the sea don't pay for the water. Scotts Valley uses the extra rain water to recharge their aquifer; its win. AND Santa Cruz continues to obtain revenue when Pasatiempo stops buying our water from us; our win. It's all about our city needing $$$ from the surrounding communities to keep life cheap for us native Santa Cruzers.
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
May 30, 2009
The City of SV can get rid of some treated wastewater at the Pasatiempo Golf Course. Good idea. Win/Win.

The City of Santa Cruz will in turn send potable water to Scotts Valley. HUH? Wait a minute, Santa Cruz has precious little "extra" water to send anywhere. There is westside growth. There is University growth. There is population growth. There is a drought on. WHY WOULD THIS BE A GOOD IDEA FOR SANTA CRUZ? Please explain. Just trading potable water formerly sent to Pasatiempo for treated wastewater from Scotts Valley is not a Win/Win situation for Santa Cruz. I do not get this idea at all.

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