We seem to be deluged with news lately about the dwindling water supply here in Santa Cruz County. Most has centered on ways to address the problem, especially the controversial proposed desalination plant vs. the need for more conservation. What's not at issue is that increasing water shortages are due to increased demand, longer dry spells, and the need to leave more water in the streams for native fish, especially endangered coho salmon.
What often seems left out of the conversation is just how precious our existing water supply is.
When the San Lorenzo Valley Water District initiated its watershed education grant program in 2003, it was not without controversy. Was it appropriate for a public agency to use public funds for watershed education?
"As the nation develops greater awareness of fracking technology, we have growing concerns about what's pumped into the ground, how it impacts water supplies, and how it undercuts our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," said county Supervisor John Leopold. "Add secrecy to the mix, and we have a real need for reasonable and effective regulation."
Ecologist Kerry Kriger -- founder and director of the nonprofit Save the Frogs! -- is leading an international campaign to reverse the unprecedented and worldwide decline of frogs and other amphibians including toads, newts and salamanders.
"Frogs and other amphibians are the most threatened group of animals on the planet," said Kriger, who believes the trend can be reversed if people get involved and take action.
What recreational activities would you like to see at the 335-acre Loch Lomond Recreation Area in the Santa Cruz Mountains? The City of Santa Cruz Water Department, which manages the area, is seeking public input at a Community Meeting on May 30. “We are seeking different viewpoints about recreation use at Loch Lomond from the whole community,” said Lydia Tolles, a water department management analyst.
“People are amazed when they find out how much rainwater they can capture from their roof tops,” said Landscape Architect Bobby Markowitz at a March 15 presentation at the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz. A house with a 2,000 square-foot roof can capture 29,900 gallons of water during an average rain year (24 inches). That’s more than a third of the annual water consumed by a typical household (average 226 gallons per day), according to the City of Santa Cruz Water Department website.
Two Sundays ago, I set out for the 10th annual Green Festival at the San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center. Billed as “the nation’s premier sustainability event,” the Green Festival is an extravaganza of organic food, green building, urban farming, solar energy, green jobs, electric cars, and sustainable clothing.
Most water utilities are not as fortunate as San Jose Water Company, which owns more than 10,000 acres of relatively undisturbed watershed, much of it forested. Most water utilities own very little land, so they have little control over how their watersheds are managed. They must rely on expensive water treatment facilities to ensure that drinking water meets Safe Drinking Water Act standards.