California was hit with storm after storm this winter, effectively ending the drought in much of the state. Areas that rely on surface water fared especially well. However, not everyone is out of the woods yet. Governor Brown's recent Executive Order B-40-17, which ends the official drought in most of California, keeps drought restrictions in effect for some areas with over-drafted groundwater basins. Many groundwater supplies in California have been drawn down to unsustainable levels even before the most recent drought began. While the recent deluge may have helped to begin recharging these groundwater supplies, full recovery is estimated to take several years or even decades of ample rainfall/recharge and reduced pumping.
Soquel Creek Water District relies 100% on local groundwater sources - we do not have the benefit of drawing on huge state reservoirs and snowpacks. Though the rain this winter had the marvelous effect of greening up yards and filling our local streams, it did not fix the District's long-term water supply problem. Our groundwater supply is over-drafted because more water has historically been pumped out than is naturally recharged through rainfall. For many years, groundwater levels in our area have been dropping and remain too low to protect against seawater intrusion. Overdraft of the groundwater basin is not sustainable and seawater intrusion at the coastline is present in the Aptos, Seascape, La Selva Beach, and Pleasure Point areas. As a result, the District is in a Groundwater Emergency which has been in effect since 2014.
At the regularly scheduled Board of Directors meeting on April 4, 2017, the Board voted to remain in a Stage 3 Water Shortage for at least another year based on the ongoing presence of the Groundwater Emergency. This is the same curtailment stage that the District has been in for the last three years. Maintaining the current level of conservation will help us continue to protect our groundwater supply while we develop new water sources. Currently, the District is evaluating three supply options within our Community Water Plan: groundwater replenishment using purified water, water transfers, and desalination. For more information on these efforts, visit the Community Water Plan page.
A Stage 3 Water Shortage calls for a 25% reduction in water use over 2013 usage. This roughly equates to each person in the District using no more than 50 gallons per day. Our community has made amazing strides in water conservation in the last few years and is already at this goal! All that we ask this year is for the community to continue saving water and to make your conservation practices a way of life.
To review the District's rules regarding water waste, which are always in effect, and the additional Stage 3 water restrictions, please see "The Rules of Water Waste" page.
- Can I wash my car at home?
- Yes, efficient car washing at home is allowed as long as an automatic shutoff nozzle is used and care is taken to reduce or eliminate the water running off the property. Washing with a bucket or with waterless spray is also appropriate.
- Are fountains and ponds allowed?
- Fountains and ponds are allowed as long as they are recirculating.
- Can I use my pressure washer?
- Pressure washing is permitted, if in preparation for painting and staining, or for the purposes of health and safety.
- Is there water rationing?
- No, there is no water rationing or budgeting in place at this time. We are simply asking customers to meet our voluntary water use guideline of 50 gallons or less per person, per day.
- Am I only allowed to water my yard on certain days?
- No, but there is a restriction on watering during the day with sprinklers. To reduce evaporative loss, sprinklers may not be used between 10 am and 8 pm.
- Where can I get the required "Water may only be served upon customer request" table tent signs for my restaurant, or the signs informing my hotel guests of their option to forego daily laundering of linens?
If you could use some help making conservation a way of life, we offer a wide range of rebates to help you meet your indoor or outdoor water conservation goals. Please visit the Rebates for Your Home page.
Also, if you need some help finding opportunities to cut water use in your home or business, call us to schedule a free Water-Wise home or business call.
We appreciate your help in protecting our local water supply! Thank you for conserving water and learning more about our Community Water Plan.
As always, if you have any questions about this month's topic, our Community Water Plan, or anything else related to Soquel Creek Water District, feel free to email Melanie Mow Schumacher or call 831-475-8501, ext. 153.