The Soquel Creek Water District is engaged in multiple approaches to combat over-drafting of the groundwater basin and seawater intrusion into our local water supply. It's important to remember that these severe water supply challenges affect everyone in our community - and we are all part of the solution. Over the next few months, this series of Water Wisdom columns will feature the viewpoints of local community members and organizations talking about the importance of creating and maintaining a sustainable water supply, as a community.
The Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection District (A/LSFPD) is responsible for fire protection and emergency response in Aptos, Rio Del Mar, and La Selva Beach. It's 27 square mile coverage area overlaps with a significant portion of the Soquel Creek Water District. And when it comes to water, both agencies agree that it is among the most important of resources.
The Chief heading up the A/LSFP is 26-year fire service veteran Aaron Lowe. He tells us that, "Water is the most crucial tool we have when it comes to fire fighting. It's most effective at extinguishing most kinds of fires, and without water we'd be in a much more serious situation, especially during the dry season. For that reason and others, we're all very aware of and sensitive to the local water supply challenges."
The Chief also points to education as a key tool in both fire prevention, and water conservation. "We work hard to help people understand how to reduce the potential for fires in their home or business," he says. "And when we have fewer fires to fight, we use less water. To the extent we can help the public decrease the incidence of fire, we're saving that drinking water for other important uses."
In his role as Chief, Aaron sees other opportunities to save water on the job. For example, when performing training or maintenance, the use of water is limited by utilizing simulations when feasible. And, when engaging in joint exercises with other, larger fire protection agencies, there is an opportunity to use equipment which actually recycles the water that's involved with the training, so they can use it multiple times - taking water re-use to another level!
Chief Lowe's understanding of the water supply challenges we face in this region today is commendable. "Water supplies here are limited, and subject to dramatic changes. A drought, or even just a sub-normal rainfall season, will cause shortages when the community needs water." He goes on to say that, "We all know that the Water District's sole source of water, the groundwater basin, is over-drafted and suffering from seawater contamination. That's a huge problem. Now is the time to embrace water reuse."
Chief Lowe notes the benefits of recycling water, with projects such as Pure Water Soquel, will have. "The technology and science out there today is already sufficient to ensure the safety of all drinking water, including the purified water that'll be produced by Pure Water Soquel." In addition, he says, "This project is great for the environment, there are plenty of checks and balances built in, and the water will meets state and federal drinking water standards. The A/LSFPD is fully on-board with the Water District's goals and actions toward groundwater sustainability."
The Chief knows that the Water District is working hard to create that and other new water supplies, which will take some of the pressure off of the groundwater basin. "Soquel Creek Water is really doing their part toward ensuring a stable water supply for the future," says Chief Lowe. "Those of us at A/LSFPD have homes and families like everyone else, and it's great to know that the Water District is exploring water options for the long-term, and looking out for our future."
And at the same time, Chief Lowe and the A/LSFPD are doing their part in conserving water, in the recognition that water is our most important - and threatened - resource. A local fire protection district and a local water district, both with water-saving goals, and both working for the improvement and long-term vitality of the community…this is a good illustration that we are indeed all #InThisTogether.