Boulder Creek, CA, May 19, 2020 — With the rainy season behind us, the focus of San Lorenzo Valley Water District is now on future groundwater levels as we head into the drier summer months.
For the District groundwater is the primary source of drinking water for residents from June through October when surface water flow is low during drier months. Rainfall is the main source of recharge to the basin and surface water flows. The groundwater basin is shared by users, including the District, Scotts Valley Water District (SVWD), and Mount Hermon Association, as well as local businesses and residents using private wells.
The Santa Margarita Groundwater Agency (SMGWA) at its Board of Directors meeting in April held an informational session that centered on groundwater levels and the agency’s goals for future groundwater levels. The District is one of three member-agencies that make up the SMGWA, along with the SVWD and the County of Santa Cruz.
The session examined the Santa Margarita Basin and its four primary aquifers: Santa Margarita aquifer, Monterey formation, Lompico aquifer and Butano aquifer. The session identified the unique characteristics of each aquifer and its particular set of users.
• The aquifer closest to the surface is the Santa Margarita. It is about 100 feet thick, on average, and is the most vulnerable to fluctuations in climate conditions. That means it recharges the fastest during periods of rainfall, but also depletes the most quickly during dry times or when lots of pumping occurs. The District and most private well owners draw water from this aquifer.
•The next aquifer down is the Monterey formation, which is not a true aquifer and a very few wells pump from it. It is a clay layer found in limited areas of the basin.
•The third layer down, the Lompico aquifer, is a main source of supply for local water districts. It is generally found around depths of 500-700 feet below the surface.
•Finally, the Butano aquifer is deepest and occurs at around 1,000 feet below the surface of the valley floor. Currently, only the Scotts Valley Water District extracts water from this aquifer.
The aquifers aren’t evenly deposited throughout the basin, according to Georgina King of Montgomery & Associates, who gave the presentation to the SMGWA. Rather, the underground bowl-shaped basin supports varying levels and depths of each aquifer in different areas. The deeper layers are exposed to the land surface in the upgradient of hillsides, which are the principal recharge zone for these aquifers.
Evaluating groundwater levels is one of the state-required elements of the Sustainable Management Criteria (SMC) in the Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP). As a required element of the GSP, the SMGWA board must set minimum thresholds for groundwater levels in the basin as well as measurable objectives to ensure the basin’s sustainability. The board provided input on the significant and unreasonable conditions that will be used to develop a draft qualitative statement for board review.
The SMGWA’s board meeting was held April 23, included time for public comment and participation on each agenda item, and was conducted via all-remote, web- and phone-based access due to the Santa Cruz County Shelter-in-Place Order response to the coronavirus outbreak.
If you are interested in learning more about the SMGWA or the District’s involvement visit www.https://smgwa.org/. The next SMGWA Board of Directors meeting will be held on May 28th at 5:30 p.m. The meeting Agenda and any supplementary materials will be made available www.https://smgwa.org/ as they are generated by staff. Due to the circumstances regarding the ongoing shelter-in-place orders all Agency meetings will be held in an exclusively remote-access format until further notice.
About the San Lorenzo Valley Water District
The San Lorenzo Valley Water District was established in 1941 as an independent special district. The District is governed by a five-member Board of Directors, elected at-large from within the District’s service area. A special district is a local government agency formed by voters to perform a needed service, such as water or sewer. The District’s boundaries comprise approximately 60 square miles and 190 miles of pipeline. The District currently provides service to approximately 7,900 residential, commercial, and institutional connections. The District relies on both surface water and groundwater resources, including nine currently active stream diversions, one groundwater spring, and eight active groundwater wells. The District owns, operates, and maintains two water systems from separate water sources. These sources are derived solely from rainfall within the San Lorenzo River watershed.
The District owns, operates, and maintains a wastewater system in Boulder Creek’s Bear Creek Estates, which serves approximately 56 homes.
Phone: (831) 338-2153
Fax: (831) 338-7986
After-hour emergencies: (831) 338-2153
San Lorenzo Valley Water District
13060 Hwy 9
Boulder Creek, CA 95006
About the Santa Margarita Groundwater Agency
Santa Margarita Groundwater Agency (SMGWA) is a Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) that was formed as a Joint Powers Authority in June 2017. It has three member-agencies: Scotts Valley Water District (SVWD), San Lorenzo Valley Water District (SLVWD), and the County of Santa Cruz (County) and is governed by the Board of Directors comprising of two representatives from each member agency, one representative from City of Scotts Valley, one from City of Santa Cruz, one from Mount Hermon Association (MHA) and two private well owner representatives. The Board of Directors holds monthly meetings that are open to the public. The staffing support and funding for the agency is provided by the member agency.
Under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014, overdrafted groundwater basins need to be sustainably managed by a GSA through the development of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP). The GSP must be completed by 2022, and the basin must reach sustainability by 2042.
The three agencies, SVWD, SLVWD, and Santa Cruz County, are committed to working with each other and engage other stakeholders in forming a GSA and developing a GSP after the state approves the boundary modification request.
Marci Bracco Cain
Salinas, CA 93901