By Erica Gies | Scientific American
Pajaro Valley on the coast of central California has little surface water, so its farmers depend on extracting groundwater to grow leafy greens and berries for the global market. But as in many places around the world, these farmers have been pumping the water out faster than nature can replenish it. In different places, groundwater decline can cause various impacts: it can make land sink, streams, wetlands, and wells dry up and seawater creep inland under the ground. And because most pumped groundwater irrigates crops, major declines in availability could lead to a global food crisis.
In some places, water managers actively refill groundwater to ameliorate this tragedy of the commons. One method of doing so is to divert stormwater runoff into scooped basins that have been built over porous ground into which the water quickly sinks. An initiative in Pajaro Valley has been working to show how to make this vision a reality for more than a decade. Called recharge net metering (ReNeM), the idea is similar in some ways to rooftop solar net metering, which compensates homeowners for any excess energy they generate and feed into the grid. Using ReNeM, the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency compensates landowners for a percentage of the amount of water they infiltrate underground.
by Alix Soliman | Lookout Santa Cruz
Can agriculture, long considered a drain on the state’s water resources, help solve California’s water crisis? In the Pajaro Valley, some farmers are being paid to return stormwater to the ground. The effort is part of a joint project among local agencies, landowners and UC Santa Cruz to install groundwater recharge basins on some local farms. Participating farms receive cash rebates based on how much water they capture. But while early results are promising, many challenges remain.
By M Bruce, L Sherman, E Bruno, A Fisher & M Kiparsky | Nature Water
Managed aquifer recharge, which uses available water to augment groundwater resources, holds promise as a strategy to reduce chronic groundwater overdraft. However, water management agencies often confront hurdles when implementing managed aquifer recharge. Favourable sites for recharging water are often located on private land, and common-pool resource conflicts frequently disincentivize voluntary private participation. We introduce recharge net metering (ReNeM), a conceptually novel, market-based mechanism to help overcome these barriers and achieve multiple extractive and non-extractive benefits from improved groundwater management.
The Resource Conservation District (RCD) of Santa Cruz County is offering neighborhoods with eight or more participating households a reimbursement of chipping costs related to the creation of defensible space for wildfire preparedness. The program is available to Santa Cruz County residents who live in areas -- defined as “Wildland Urban Interface” areas -- that may potentially be impacted by wildfire.
Register HERE for an informational webinar to be held on Monday, July 24 at 6:00 PM.
Applications open for FireWise USA Communities July 25, 2023 and for all other eligible neighborhoods on August 1st. Last day to submit reimbursement forms is October 31, 2023.
By Nick Sestanovich | Santa Cruz Sentinel
WATSONVILLE - The Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency announced Wednesday it was one of four regional groundwater management agencies to receive grant funding from the California Department of Conservation. The recharge net metering and Stormwater Basin Incentive Program, led by the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County and UC Santa Cruz, is one of the projects funded through the grant.
Work started last week to create a shaded fuel break along the Fall Creek Truck Trail in the Fall Creek Unit of Henry Cowell State Park. This approximately 62-acre project will enhance forest health, improve emergency access, and create more favorable conditions during fire suppression activities. Crews will be reducing the amount of fuel load on the ground, strategically thinning understory vegetation, and removing dead and dying trees that pose a safety hazard. A number of the standing and downed dead trees will be retained for wildlife habitat.