Do you know the water level in your private well?  Observing the level over time can provide insight into the longevity of your well and water supply. In addition to knowing your well’s condition, practicing water conservation is a cost-effective way to increase your well’s lifetime. These efforts also help ensure that we have a long-term water supply in the Mid-County Groundwater Basin. The basin provides drinking water to the residents of Capitola, Live Oak, Soquel and Aptos from the mountains to coast.

Photo 1 Well Access PortFor well level tests, the well heads should have an access port of 5/8 inch (16 mm) or larger.The Resource Conservation District, in a partnership with the Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency, is offering free water level and conservation evaluations for well owners in the Mid-county area.  You can enter your address at www.midcountygroundwater.org to determine if you are in the Mid-County Basin boundaries. Water levels are measured by using equipment that sends sound waves down the well through the access port to estimate water depth. It’s best to take the measurement twice per year – once in the spring when water levels are usually at their peak, and once in the fall when they are at their lowest. This range of water levels can be compared with measurements taken in subsequent years to establish trends. Landowners can receive no-cost water level services every year through the County of Santa Cruz.

 

Photo 2 GerryAssessmentGerry Spinelli of the Resource Conservation District checking the flow rate of a sink.A water conservation evaluation will be completed in conjunction with the water level tests. The assessment will look at indoor fixtures to determine what upgrades, if any, will promote the greatest water use reduction. A simple outdoor irrigation audit will also be conducted with the option for more thorough evaluation for properties with large landscapes or agricultural crops. Armed with this information, landowners can take actions to improve conservation efforts and extend the useful life of their well. 

Data collected will be compiled on an anonymous basis to help the Agency better characterize water use in the Basin. The evaluations will also help drive possible services, such as rebates for low water use fixture or efficient irrigation equipment that could benefit well owners. In Santa Cruz County, rebates for low-flow toilets, washing machines, and other fixtures are currently only available to municipal water customers.

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment or want more information on this service, please contact Angie Gruys at or call (831) 464-2950 X 22.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Take a Load Off!

Davidson 2008 15Free Wildfire Fuel Load Reduction Assistance.

Fire season is underway. The Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (RCD) is seeking applications for its no-cost chipping program to reduce wildfire fuels around homes, roads and neighborhoods in high-risk areas. Through a grant with the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District, the RCD is providing chipping services to County residents that have excess fuel loads around their properties due to debris from last winter storms. Chipping downed wood and clearing of flammable vegetation around homes is a critical step in reducing fuel loads to create defensible space around structures. This year’s winter rains and recent warm weather have given rise to vegetation which serves as fast and flashy fuel for wildfire. This program helps residents reduce fire hazard.

“The RCD Chipper Program is a critical component of vegetative fuel load reduction projects,” explained Andy Hubbs, Vegetation Management Program Coordinator with CAL FIRE. “With the high number of homes located in fire prone areas, this program is a huge benefit for assisting homeowners to implement and maintain defensible space. CAL FIRE encourages residents to coordinate efforts in your neighborhoods and take advantage of this valuable program.”

The program is available on first-come first service basis and priority will be given to neighborhoods that are able to collect fuel debris from multiple homes and road ways. Applications are available on the RCD web site at:

http://www.rcdsantacruz.org/financial-support

For more information contact Angie Gruys at the RCD at OR 831-464-2950 x22

The RCD works with local fire agencies, fire protection districts and fire safe councils to implement recommendations in the Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), print and provide a variety of brochures and resource materials and conduct a multitude of public outreach, workshops and educational efforts emphasizing fire safe awareness and prevention.

ScottCreek viewThe Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (RCD) today received a $435,000 grant from the Wildlife Conservation Board to support restoration of the Scotts Creek lagoon and marsh ecosystem. This grant is one of three awarded today for salmonid recovery projects in Santa Cruz County – the County and City of Santa Cruz each were awarded funds from the WCB for separate projects in the San Lorenzo River Watershed.

Scotts Creek is a coastal stream in northern Santa Cruz County, which according to the 2012 National Marine Fisheries Service’s Coho Recovery Plan, is regarded as the most important stream for supporting a sustained run of coho and regional recovery. Scotts Creek, its marshplain and lagoon have been significantly impacted and functionally degraded by historic activities, most notably construction of Highway 1. Over the past 10 years, successful restoration projects upstream done in partnership with Cal Poly / Swanton Pacific Ranch have greatly improved spawning habitat. This effort will compliment those projects by focusing on the lagoon and estuary system at Scott Creek.

This project is a collaborative effort between the RCD, the Coastal Conservancy, Caltrans, the Regional Transportation Commission, the County and CalPoly / Swanton Pacific Ranch with oversight from a technical advisory committee of the Integrated Watershed Restoration Program. A set of decision support tools and ecological models will be developed and used to prepare engineering designs for the restoration of the lagoon and marsh, which Caltrans will use to inform the design for a replacement bridge.

When implemented, the ecological restoration along with the bridge replacement will result in a hydrologically functioning lagoon and marsh complex with a 21st century transportation corridor, both of which are designed for a changing climate and designed to be multi-beneficial.

Established in 1942, the RCD is a locally-governed special district with the mission of helping people protect, steward and restore natural resources. Originally tasked with helping farmers reduce erosion, the RCD has evolved alongside a changing community and now acts as a hub for land stewardship working with private and public landowners.

The Resource Conservation District, County of Santa Cruz, City of Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley Water District are hosting a bus tour and technical training on Thursday, December 15 from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM highlighting five local low stormwater project that were recently completed in Soquel, Scotts Valley, Santa Cruz and Live Oak.

The projects demonstrate what is known as Low Impact Development or LID. LID is an approach to land development (or re-development) that works with nature to manage rainwater runoff on site instead of piping it out to the street and into storm drains where it may otherwise contribute to flooding and pollution problems. LID employs principles such as preserving and recreating natural landscape features, minimizing hardened surfaces where water can’t infiltrate into the ground, and creating functional and appealing site drainage systems that treat stormwater as a resource rather than a waste product. LID practices help with long term drought response by capturing stormwater, increasing groundwater recharge, and making water available for future use. As water resources become scarcer and climate change alters rainfall and runoff patterns, it becomes more imperative to maximize the beneficial uses of water and reduce the long-term impacts of development.

Bus Tour and Training in Santa Cruz County

·        Thursday, December 15, 2016
·        9:00 AM to 3:30 PM
·        Cost is $15 and includes a boxed lunch
·        Registration is Required – www.rcdsantacruz.org

Today, the Wildlife Conservation Board awarded a $211,372 grant to the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (RCD) for a cooperative effort with Trout Unlimited, local private landowners and water users in the Soquel Creek Watershed to identify and develop high‐priority, technically and socially‐feasible projects that yield water supply benefits for people and fisheries.

Funding will be used to increase streamflow that will benefit endangered steelhead and Coho salmon while working with landowners to increase water supply reliability. The project will include a scientific analysis that will determine where the greatest benefit can be achieved, establish a path forward through the regulatory process, and build collaborative relationships with landowners interested in participating.

By Bob Tomlin

Bob TomlinLandowner Bob Tomlin (center) discusses the project with RCD executive director Chris Coburn (left), Board Member Howard Liebenberg (right) and Associate Board Member Kathryn Tobisch (background).Since childhood I have loved spending time along streams and rivers, hiking, camping and seeing the fish, frogs, turtles and birds and as an adult fly fishing for trout in the Sierras. Retiring on property with a year around stream (Soquel Creek) flowing thru it was a dream come true. Soon after moving in I took an exploratory hike for a mile upstream and was surprised at how few fish, frogs and turtles I saw; 10 medium sized frogs, one trout (6” long), one sculpin, one squawfish, no turtles and very few “fishy” looking spots in a mile of stream. Our particular quarter mile section was generally barren looking with only a couple of pools, mostly long, straight and shallow sun bleached stretches with the gravel and cobble bottom heavily silted in the lower half. I thought to do some type of modest manually constructed stream bed alterations to create some pools, refuges and shade for fish and amphibians and began asking neighbors for referrals to a stream habitat expert that could give me some advice on what to do.

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