County calls for 20 percent water use reduction: No mandatory reduction yet
by Peter Burke
Jan 30, 2014 | 3129 views | 2 2 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lucjan Szewczyk/Press-Banner
Lucjan Szewczyk/Press-Banner
The County of Santa Cruz has advocated for a 20 percent reduction in water usage in the county to combat a nearly rainless winter.

The County, in conjunction with Gov. Jerry Brown’s January 17 declaration of a statewide drought, declared a drought in Santa Cruz County on Tuesday, January 28.

Santa Cruz is experiencing its third consecutive year of below-average rainfall resulting in the lowest level ever recorded in the San Lorenzo River in January and Loch Lomond reservoir at 65 percent of its capacity with no major storms on the horizon.

“Realistically, this isn’t something we have faced in this area in quite some time,” said Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend. “We need very honest discussion, without the politics, about what we’re going to do moving forward in this county.”

Friend continued on Tuesday to say that decision makers in the county have allowed water supply discussions to become too politicized, considering that water is essential to the economy and to every day life.

A group of leaders from various water agencies in the county spoke about measures they would take to reduce water usage and ensure a water supply.

Jay Mosley, the Scotts Valley Water District Board President said the daily demand for water in Scotts Valley is up 14 percent from this time last year and that the district is preparing to implement its water storage contingency plan. Stage 2 of the plan would be a voluntary 15 percent reduction and Stage 3, a mandatory 20 percent restriction. Already in place is an ordinance that requires no spray irrigation between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., no hosing off of hardscapes and no irrigation run-off.

Long-term solutions the district is taking include working on conjunctive use, acquiring land to recharge the groundwater supply, storm water management, conservation house calls and continuing rebate programs, Mosley said.

“I think it’s important for us to come together regionally,” he said.

San Lorenzo Valley Water District General Manager Jim Mueller said the district’s board will consider a 20 percent voluntary conservation measure on February 6 and will evaluate in the next two to three months what further measures need to be taken.

“We need to begin to implement

With surface water, including rivers and creeks, at historical lows, Mueller said the district has stopped drawing from surface water.

“The district has shifted almost entirely to groundwater,” he said.

Soquel Creek Water District, which serves the Capitola and Soquel areas, has a more dire situation. The groundwater basin the district draws its drinking water from is beginning to be contaminated by seawater. District officials say it would take at least 20 years and reduced pumping by 35 percent to restore the basin.

John Ricker, Santa Cruz County’s Water Resources Division Director, said the county is working on ways to create a more sustainable regional water supply. He said it will likely be a combination of having supplemental water supplies, groundwater recharge, using recycled water, desalinization and water transfers.

“We see this current drought as a call to action,” Ricker said.

Water districts and the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County all offer rebates and tips to conserve water.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Bruce Holloway
February 05, 2014
For Supervisor Zach Friend to say to take the politics out of water is like the lion who gets religion and says a blessing before having you for dinner. I say that as a registered Democrat in California (and maybe Santa Cruz County) since before he was born. Half of California history and politics since statehood has been about water. Many might ridicule Douglas Deitch for his tactical approach, but he has consistently pointed out that for twenty years this county has ignored the impending groundwater crisis due to seawater intrusion, which has nothing to do with the current drought.
Douglas Deitch
February 09, 2014
Even some people in the San Lorenzo Valley were aware of this impending disaster and true ground water emergency way back then in 1998 and were trying to do something about it, as our laws, LCPs, and their oaths to follow them all then and still now requires ... ,

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