—Contributed by the Soquel Creek Water District
Soquel Creek Water District customers were asked to voluntarily reduce water use five percent from May through October to help protect over-drafted groundwater supplies from further impacts of drought.
Although this goal was not met, the good news is overall customer water consumption went down one percent (compared to the average over the previous three years) despite a rebounding economy and an unusually warm summer. The irrigation-only accounts saw a rise in use, however the District’s largest water consumers, residential and business customers, reduced their water use as shown in the chart to the right.
In order to avoid further water restrictions next summer our area needs to receive an above-average rainfall total of 29 inches by March 31, 2012.
Whether or not we are in a drought, year-round water conservation is critical to protecting our community’s water supply. Currently, the District relies solely on underground aquifers to provide water to its customers. The aquifers are in a state of overdraft, meaning water is pumped out faster than it is replenished. In fact, the amount of water being pumped from the aquifers needs to be reduced 35% for 20 years to allow water levels to recover and prevent seawater intrusion from contaminating the water supply.
The District is seeking solutions through the development of a supplemental water supply including evaluation of a proposed desalination facility in partnership with the City of Santa Cruz, water exchanges, increased conservation and possible future water restrictions.