Recurring droughts are something we’ve all learned to live with here in California, and unfortunately, this year is shaping up to be one of the worst. As of last month, 94% of California is reported to be in a "severe" (or worse) drought condition, while 73% of the state is in the "extreme" drought category – and that includes right here in the Santa Cruz mid-county region. While the overdrafted groundwater supply we rely on to serve our customers may not be as immediately impacted by the current drought as surface water supply sources, it does have a negative impact over time. Thus, we remain in a Groundwater Emergency and Stage 3 Water Curtailment due to historical groundwater overdraft and seawater contamination occurring at the coastline. The community is already doing a remarkable job of daily water conservation – and during a drought, that commitment to saving water is even more important. Using our WaterSmart Customer Portal, considering smart irrigation controllers, and maintaining your irrigation system are three things that can really help.
Our WaterSmart Customer Portal is an online tool giving you more control over your water use and billing, leak detection, and more. It can notify you about potential water leaks so you can find and fix the leak before it becomes a bigger problem. You can also set-up alerts for when your water use level or bill amount reaches your designated thresholds. With that information, you can minimize water loss due to a leak, reduce potential water damage, and get fewer surprises in your water bills. You can also pay your water bill, see how much water your irrigation system uses, identify water-saving opportunities, access conservation resources, and even apply for conservation rebates. Visit soquelcreekwater.org/watersmart for more information and to register for this free online service.
July is Smart Irrigation month! So, you might consider installing a smart irrigation controller that automatically adjusts your watering schedule based on daily weather changes will help you save water. Smart irrigation controllers, also known as weather-based irrigation controllers, use current weather information to create appropriate irrigation schedules that adjust as the weather changes. They are most cost-effective for medium-size or larger landscapes; however, they can be used for any size landscape. The District offers rebates of up to $125 when you buy and install a weather-based irrigation controller. Visit soquelcreekwater.org/rebates to learn more about this and other rebates available when you install water-saving tools.
Smart irrigation controllers reduce landscape water use by an average of about 8% as part of a well-maintained irrigation system. But they can’t correct common irrigation problems — to really benefit from a weather-based controller, you should ensure your existing irrigation system is working well.
Maintaining your irrigation system will help ensure you are watering as efficiently as possible — in fact, landscape irrigation issues are one of the top three causes of water leaks and waste. The first step is to monitor your water bills (it’s easy with the WaterSmart Customer Portal!). Here are some of the basic things you can do to keep your irrigation system running smoothly:
- While the irrigation is running, look for and fix or adjust overspray onto hardscapes or other run-off, broken heads or leaking seals, obstructed or misdirected heads, and dying or drowning plants.
- Know how to use your irrigation controller and consider purchasing a "smart" one that automatically adjusts for recent rainfall and time of year.
- Create a map of your yard showing each irrigation zone and its valve number - this will save time when trouble-shooting any problems.
- Add mulch to help hold moisture in the landscape and prevent erosion on slopes.
- Irrigate when the sun is down (but inspect your system when the sun is up).
- Adjust your irrigation schedule with the four seasons.
The drought we’re now experiencing emphasizes the importance of the District’s Pure Water Soquel supplemental water supply project (soquelcreekwater.org/PWS), and we’re happy to report that construction of eight miles of that project’s pipelines is now underway. This is the “conveyance system” that will transport water to the Pure Water Soquel advanced purification facility (to be built), and then carry that ultra-clean water to the seawater intrusion prevention wells where it will be pumped underground to replenish our overdrafted groundwater basin.
This construction began in late May at two locations, as crews started installing pipeline on California Street through the Laurel Street intersection, and on Soquel Avenue near Chanticleer Avenue. Construction of the pipeline system is anticipated to continue at various locations into 2023.
Be sure to visit our construction webpage for information about ongoing and upcoming construction for Pure Water Soquel, including maps and schedules, and to sign up for email construction updates.
Visit our website for a list of our current water use restrictions and directions on how to report water waste in our community.
We thank our customers for continuing to conserve water and being diligent about preventing water waste.