Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Jul 30th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Supervisor Greg Caput

Greg KaputWhat should locals know about the water supply situation in the Pájaro Valley, and what are your ideas for how to address the problems? 

We have a major, underreported problem in the Pájaro Valley. Years of drought are worsening our already depleted aquifer and the less rain we receive the more water we have to pump from it.

Whereas Santa Cruz captures surface water, the Pájaro Valley has had the historic luxury of a humongous aquifer below our feet. This has allowed our area to be one of the most productive agricultural producers in the world. Residing in a specialized climate, we can grow valuable crops like strawberries and raspberries, making us formidable international players on the world market.

Ideally, under favorable patterns of rain, our water usage would harmonize with our natural aquifer replenishment via rain. However, for decades we have been extracting more water than is viable as the water necessary to grow strawberries instead of apples, for example, requires nearly four times the acre feet of water.

Although typically filled this time of year, our sloughs are also extremely low, resulting in increased brush fires. The quality of habitat for wildlife is also compromised as many migrating birds come to our area precisely because of our usually plush wetlands.

Nonetheless, the bigger problem is the ongoing threat of saltwater intrusion. As our aquifer’s freshwater supply decreases, so too does our resistance to saltwater contamination. When saltwater begins to intrude inland—in spaces where freshwater predominates—the soil above becomes infertile. Since the water provided from natural rainfall is scarce, this puts more demands upon wells to pump water, and increased likelihood that coastal sources will dry up and be still more susceptible to intrusion.

Accounting for roughly 85 percent of all groundwater withdrawal, the agriculture community has felt the most pressure from the challenges of intrusion and overdraft. These challenges have been the source of much discussion and debate.

The Pájaro Valley Water Management Agency has provided exceptional leadership concerning these issues. Sued a number of times for increasing water prices, they continue to seek novel methods to tackle our structural impasses. These ideas have included strategic conservation, pursuing greater water retention from College Lake, importing water from the San Luis Reservoir, and calling for an increase in fallowed farmland—some more feasible than others

Many of these solutions would require big state and federal dollars. Nonetheless, we’ve seen significant improvements in efficiency. In years past, it was common to see sprinkler systems across the valley as drivers would often get a splash across their windows. Drip irrigation—which literally drips into plants where they are–now predominates. Some, such as the Eiskamp family, have installed electronic soil probe systems with wireless capacity, enabling precise watering measurements that prevent overwatering.

Such advances in agricultural technology have occurred over the past decade alone. Additionally, farmers are warming to the idea of fallowed land, which undoubtedly affects profits. Nonetheless, solutions needed to address these problems are very big and long-term solutions—and continuously preoccupy our local Pájaro Valley Water Management Agency.

Beyond applying for and receiving grant money, we need greater awareness from residents. These matters are of great importance to our valley, local economy and future generations. Planting environmentally friendly flora or teaching our children to conserve is important not only for preserving water resources but also because of how such actions intercede with our larger ecology.

President Barack Obama, Gov. Jerry Brown and others have called for a 20 percent reduction in water consumption—an exceptional burden for agriculture under conditions of drought. Whereas I hope to somehow meet that call to action, I am more hopeful that the decree of crisis will lead more to appreciate our challenges and work toward sustainable solutions.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Picture of Health

Santa Cruz just received a high ranking among California counties. But it may be hiding some of the biggest health dangers facing our area

 

Mars Enters Scorpio: The Nine Tests

Over the years I’ve mentioned the nine tests of Mars and Scorpio. The tests are given to everyone—unawakened, beginning to awaken, and the awakened. The purpose is to test our strength, courage, ability to adapt, discriminate and have discernment. To see if we are deceived by illusion or are “warriors triumphant, emerging from the battle.”

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Time Capsule

Actors age in real time in audacious, mesmerizing ‘Boyhood’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Maharaja

Chef Didar Singh on Royal Taj’s reincarnation as Maharaja

 

I remember Santa Cruz when…

Santa Cruz | Librarian

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Muns Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir

This vivacious cherry-pink Rosé is a simply beautiful summer wine.