We support the protection of the thousands of acres of watershed property owned by the district, and are considering the very long-range issues that may affect water supplies in the future such as climate change.
Our ratepayers rely on water from the Santa Margarita groundwater basin in the south zone, and everywhere in the district when surface water is limited. This is our best option for long-term storage and we consider it one of the most important issues facing the district in the coming years. As representatives on the Santa Margarita Groundwater Association board, Chuck Baughman and Gene Ratcliffe are advocating for SLVWD ratepayers by ensuring the developing Groundwater Sustainability Plan will be funded equitably, based on the history of groundwater pumping. Developing a robust and equitable plan is a serious, complex project with critical water supply and financial repercussions. Our district’s past responsible use of this basin, and our commitment to watershed management will be reflected in the plan. Also, with a one million-dollar matching grant from the state, we were able to halve the cost of this complex multi-year project needed to safeguard our groundwater resources.
In addition, SLVWD and Santa Cruz County received a joint conjunctive use grant in 2017. This money will help us reach our goal of using our excess surface water in the winter via the interties in lieu of groundwater sources to recharge the groundwater basin—in addition to emergency use.
This board established a mitigation land bank on high-quality sandhills habitat already owned by the district. This will ensure future capital improvement projects in the environmentally sensitive sandhill habitat, found in several areas of our district, can be mitigated using our own land, and under our management.
In addition, easement of an unused portion of the Kirby treatment plant property for the Discovery Park next to the new Felton Library will provide watershed and environmental stewardship education to the public plus more onsite mitigation for work along Bull Creek, itself an important element in Felton zone water projects.
Constructing projects in sensitive areas, such as the Probation Tank, can take years of permitting and studies, and having available mitigation land, under our control will streamline part of the long process without compromising rare species and habitat.