Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Mar 01st
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

 

Green Swell

Local surfboard company greens up the industry with an eco-conscious business model

 

Two Fish Bound by a Golden Cord

Until March 20, (Spring Equinox), Earth and her kingdoms (mineral, plant, animal, human) experience the influence of Pisces, sign of the World Savior. Whereas the task of Aquarius is as world server, the Pisces task is saving the world—tasks given to the two fishes. Pisces never really enters matter, and as the last sign of the zodiac includes all the signs. During Pisces, having gathered all the gifts of the previous 11 signs, it is a good time to prepare for new initiating plans when Aries (sign of beginnings) begins. No wonder Pisces, like Scorpio, is so difficult (both are ruled by Pluto, planet of death, new life, regeneration, transformations). Both signs (with Scorpio drowning in dark and deep waters) find life on Earth a hardship, disorienting (from the spiritual perspective), at times feeling betrayed. Life is a paradox, especially for Pisces. Each zodiacal sign represents and distributes a different phase and facet (12) of the Soul’s diamond light, Pisces is the “Light of Life itself, ending forever the darkness of matter.” It takes two fish to complete this work (creating eventually an extraordinary human being). One fish turned toward the material world (in order to understand matter), the other fish toward the heavenly world. Around the two fish is a silvery cord binding them together. The two fish are forever bound until all of humanity is redeemed (lifted up into the Light). This is the dedication of all world saviors (Buddha, Christ, the NGWS). Thus the sacrifice and suffering experienced by Pisces. Knowing these things about Pisces, let us help them all we can. Sometimes all of humanity is Pisces.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Seal Change

Celtic selkie lore comes alive in dazzling ‘Song of the Sea’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Teresa’s Gourmet Foods

New owners for Santa Cruz’s leading local salsa company

 

What defines a good dive bar?

It’s slightly dirty, and they serve cheap drinks. Stella Celeste, Santa Cruz, Barrista

 

Picchetti Winery

After enjoying its contents, I couldn’t throw away the empty bottle of Picchetti Winery’s Red Table Wine.

 

Happy Birthday, Manny

Manuel’s turns 50, farmers market steel head pairs with Pinot, and a Birichino Malvasia