SANTA CRUZ, Calif.-- Our drinking water supplies are at risk, groundwater wells may run dry, and the San Lorenzo River is at its lowest January level, ever recorded. In the face of these worsening drought conditions, all eight water agencies in Santa Cruz County are announcing their plan of action to handle our very dry year.
All eight agencies that gathered Tuesday all had one thing in common: voluntary water conservation is beginning, and mandatory water rationing is not far behind. However, the bigger problem here is finding a long term solution to the water shortage.
"Santa Cruz County doesn't get water from anybody else in the state. We are dependent on what falls from the sky, and unfortunately there hasn't been much of that lately," said Jon Ricker, Director of the Santa Cruz County Resource Conservation District.
It's no wonder all eight water agencies in Santa Cruz County for the short term are having people voluntarily conserve water.
"It's nice to think that we can do it with all conservation. but you have to look further. What about 30,40,50, years from now? You can only conserve so much. We have to be looking for a supplemental supply of water," said Dr. Tom LaHue, president of the board of Soquel Creek Water District, says their groundwater basin is so low that it will take 20 years with a 35 percent cutback in water use to get the water they need, so a supplemental water supply is beyond necessary.
"We have been working with the city of Santa Cruz to work on this regional joint desalination project and that's on the back burner now, so we can't count on that," said Lahue.
If Soquel Creek Water District doesn't find a supplemental supply of water in the immediate future, it's only option is mandatory rationing.
"I'm hoping that's not the only solution, because that impacts peoples' lives beyond what is reasonable conservation, and like I said, in the long term, you have to look way down the road," said LaHue. "I don't know if people realize we are monitoring wells in the outskirts of Aptos, because they already show evidence of seawater intrusion."?