Conservation, Soquel Creek Water District
The new revised sustainable yield estimate for the Purisima of 2500 acre-feet per year is a reduction of 17% from the average pumping in 2004-2008 of 3000 acre-ft per year. In 2009, water customers reduced their use by 14% during the months of peak water use. That savings was achieved partly through voluntary restrictions on landscape watering. The more ambitious water reduction goal of 17% for the entire year could be achieved through cutbacks in landscape water alone. Or residents could decide to conserve in other ways, such as shorter showers, as did residents of Queensland, Australia. The Queensland experience offers an important lesson in how to achieve changes in water use behavior. Rather than impose detailed restrictions on water use, it works better to give people a target for their daily consumption that will result in a sustainable water supply. People will then decide on their own how to achieve it. Some people would rather flush the toilet less often than let their petunias go dry.
The situation in the southern third of the District is more uncertain. It is evident that conservation by District customers alone will not solve the overdraft problem in the Pajaro Valley. The fate of Soquel Creek Water District is tied closely to a resolution of the Pajaro Valley water overdraft. (See Tragedy of the Commons)
Assuming water peace will come to the Pajaro Valley, and agricultural pumping is reduced to sustainable levels, the District may still have a localized water overdraft problem in their geographical portion of the Aromas aquifer, according to the District’s consultant.1 If that is the case, conservation by District users, along with local private well owners (including Seascape Golf Course) will need to be part of the solution.
As of July, 2010, the District Board of Directors has asked the staff to come up with a scenario for achieving sustainable use of the aquifers that does not include building a desalination plant. Transition Santa Cruz supports this inquiry and recommends that Santa Cruz do the same.
1 Hydrometrics letter to Soquel Creek Water District, “Modeled Outflow to Achieve Protective Water Levels”, Sept. 2009
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