Although the amount of water in the local aquifers has gradually decreased for the past 30 years, recycled water and conservation measures combined with recharge efforts from rainfall have slowed the decline since 2004, the study shows.
“The dramatic decline of 20 years ago is not continuing,” said Mike Maley, a consultant from Kennedy/Jenks. “We’d like to try to bring things up.”
Last week, the district released its annual groundwater management report, which showed that the district has pumped less water from the aquifers since 2004, resulting in only slight declines in local underground water sources since then.
Scotts Valley depleted its groundwater most heavily between 1985 and 1992.
n Between 1985 and 1992, groundwater storage declined at a rate of 500 acre-feet to 2,000 acre-feet each year.
n Between 1993 and 2004, groundwater storage typically declined by between 300 acre-feet and 500 acre-feet each year.
n In 2005 and 2006, water levels increased by more than 500 acre-feet because heavy rainfalls recharged the aquifers. In 2007, the level went down by more than 800 acre-feet, but in 2008, despite a second straight lower-than-average rainfall year, the aquifer levels decreased by slightly more than 100 acre-feet.
The decrease in groundwater production, the study says, is due to a host of factors.
Though the number of water connections within the Scotts Valley Water District continues to increase, the amount of water taken from the aquifers has decreased since 2004.
This is partly because rebate programs encourage residents and businesses to use less water and because district customers are using more recycled water in place of potable water.
This month, the Safeway and Longs shopping center on Mt. Hermon Road will begin using recycled water for irrigation.
In addition, a $700,000 grant will extend three recycled water lines along Scotts Valley Drive, said Charlie McNeish, the water district’s general manager.
To maintain existing groundwater supplies, Kennedy/Jenks recommends continuing and expanding the district’s water conservation programs, including using recycled water for irrigation and construction, and offering rebates to encourage the use of low-flow toilets, artificial grass and energy-efficient washing machines.
Though it means less money in utility fees, McNeish said it’s a smart move for the community.
“We do see that the decreasing water use means decreased revenue,” he said. “But we recognize preserving water in the aquifer is important.”
The district is also studying ways to recharge the aquifers, such as collecting excess storm water or injecting water back into the aquifers.
The district also continues work with the city of Santa Cruz to trade recycled water for potable water. In the trade, a pipeline between Pasatiempo Golf Club and Scotts Valley would furnish the golf course with recycled water in exchange for potable water for Scotts Valley.
The pipeline project is slowly moving forward, and Santa Cruz must change its water rights policy — a complex process with political ramifications — before it can send potable water in Scotts Valley’s direction.
At a glance
To review the annual Scotts Valley groundwater report, visit www.svwd.org.