By Jessica A. York, Santa Cruz Sentinel
CAPITOLA >> LAST WEEK, GOV. JERRY BROWN ISSUED AN ORDER FOR THE STATE’S FIRST MANDATORY WATER RESTRICTIONS AND LOCAL WATER AGENCIES HAVE BEEN QUICK TO FOLLOW.
On Tuesday night, the Soquel Creek Water District Board of Directors discussed incorporating state mandates into its urban water management plan. Notable changes to already-existing district efforts include limiting residential outdoor turf and ornamental landscaping irrigation to twice a week, and banning watering during or within 48 hours of measurable rainfall.
Brown’s order called for a cumulative 25 percent water usage reduction statewide, but mandates for individual water agencies will be more subtle. Sliding-scale water usage reduction goals, released by the state Tuesday evening, would require Soquel Creek Water District to maintain a 20 percent residential cutback, compared to its 2013 figures. That goal, said district General Manager Kim Adamson, is on par with water reductions made in 2014.
“We have been very close to meeting that — sometimes a little over, sometimes a little under,” Adamson said.
Separate from stage measure, the district board will consider moving from its existing Stage 3 Emergency Water Shortage, which calls for a 25 percent water use reduction, to Stage 4, calling for a 35 percent reduction, at its April 21 meeting.
Board member Bruce Jaffe said the district has an opportunity to capitalize on water issues receiving such heightened attention by increasing public outreach and education efforts. The Soquel Creek Water District faces somewhat unique water source issues, compared to its neighbors, in that it relies solely on a groundwater aquifer supply, rather than stream runoff. The ongoing statewide drought emergency, while assisting in the district’s effort to raise awareness, is less of an immediate concern than groundwater overdraft, officials have said.
“This is an opportunity for the district to have an impact on people who are listening, Jaffe said. “I do think it’s a teachable moment, and there’s lots to be taught. One of the things we have to keep driving home is our problems don’t get solved by rain. But people are listening now, I think.
District regulations already in effect, to remain:
• No excess watering that flows onto sidewalks, roads or neighboring properties.
• No hosing down sidewalks and driveways.
• Car washing only with a shut-off nozzle attached to a hose.
• Water served only on request in restaurants and bars.
• Hotels and motels must offer patrons ability to opt-out of daily towel and linen washing.
Later in the meeting, DeepWater Desal partners gave a presentation on their efforts to build a desalination plant and associated seawater-cooled data center in Moss Landing. The board also was scheduled to adjourn to a closed session at the end of Tuesday’s meeting to evaluate Adamson’s job performance. Last month, a closed session vote to terminate Adamson’s contract failed to gain needed board support.