the recently formed SMGWA hopes to restore groundwater reserves

The Santa Margarita Groundwater Agency (SMGWA) was formed about a year ago to ensure a healthy flow of ground water year round.

Groundwater management agencies — composed of the Scotts Valley Water District, San Lorenzo Valley Water District and the County of Santa Cruz — oversee the groundwater management activities of the Santa Margarita Basin Area in Santa Cruz County, California.

“The Santa Margarita Basin is well below ‘normal’ levels, due to decades of taking more water out than nature puts in—overdrafting,” said San Lorenzo Valley Water Management Director Brian Lee “However, through the combined efforts of San Lorenzo Valley Water District and Scotts Valley Water District, water levels in the basin have stabilized over the past decade, while still remaining below normal. “

The Board of Directors of the SMGWA includes two board members from each of the water districts and the County of Santa Cruz, one from the City of Scotts Valley, one from the City of Santa Cruz, one from the Mount Hermon Association Community Water System, and two private well owner representatives. 

Current members include Fifth District Supervisor Bruce McPherson, First District Supervisor John Leopold, Doug Enfer, City of Santa Cruz, Dona Lind, City of Scotts Valley, Vhuck Baughman, San Lorenzo Valley, Gene Ratcliffe, Scotts Valley Water District, Chris Perri and  Ruth Stiles, San Lorenzo Valley Water District, Dale Pollock, Mt. Hermon Association, Angela Franklin, Well Owner Representative, and Nick Vrolyk, well owner representative.

“The recently formed Santa Margarita Groundwater Agency will be developing solutions to restoring groundwater reserves and ensuring a sustainable solution for all, including appropriate environmental stewardship.” Lee said. “Solutions may include in-lieu recharge (resting hardworking wells during the winter, while using stream water instead), conjunctive use (storing winter water for summer use,) or active recharge of the basin using recycled water. All options are currently on the table for consideration.”

Groundwater is the primary source of drinking water for residents living in the Santa Margarita Groundwater Basin boundary. Scotts Valley Water District, San Lorenzo Valley Water District, and Mount Hermon Association, as well as local businesses and residents using private wells, share the groundwater basin. Groundwater also is important to stream base flow in the summer months, supporting local steelhead and Coho salmon populations. Rainfall is the only source of recharge to the basin. The water districts and the County of Santa Cruz are working together on sustainable groundwater management to ensure reliable and resilient water systems.

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