Since 2010, the Community Water Dialogue has led many efforts to address the water supply and aquifer overdraft issue in the Pajaro Valley. These include:
1. Fostering Collaboration and Ensuring Broad Representation. From the beginning, the CWD has had consistent involvement and support of 50-60 people from a broad variety of stakeholders;
2. Reorienting the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency (PVWMA). The PVWMA has turned to the CWD as a collaborator and forum for developing solutions. Input and participation from CWD members on the Ad Hoc Basin Management Planning (BMP) Committee has assisted PVWMA’s long-term planning process;
3. Implementing Successful Collaborative Projects. The CWD has launched collaborative projects to reduce water use through conservation and efficiency and to increase aquifer recharge:
Wireless Irrigation Monitoring Network: Through the Land Management and Irrigation Best Practices working group the CWD developed the Wireless Irrigation Network effort (Project WIN) to help growers improve irrigation efficiency. This project involves a network of communication towers set up to transfer data from growers’ soil tension probes to provide them with real time information for improved irrigation decision-making. Early adopters are seeing 15-30% water savings with little or no yield loss. Creating this central network of towers drastically reduces the investment required by growers to utilize the probes, encouraging more widespread adoption of this technology.
Managed Aquifer Recharge: CWD partners have just completed construction on the first small-scale “managed aquifer recharge” (MAR) pilot project designed to improve water supply. The participants included Driscoll’s Berries and Reiter Affiliated Companies, along with the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (RCDSCC), USDA - NRCS, the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC), California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB), and landowners. Location-specific strategies were tested for routing runoff, minimizing siltation, cycling nutrients, and achieving other water quality benefits as excess surface flow (rainfall) is percolated into underlying aquifers. Monitoring and quantification of improvements (amount of water put into aquifers, benefits to water quality) will be essential components of these projects.