March 21 signals the beginning of Spring

Santa Cruz enters this water demand season in much better shape than a year ago. Rainfall to date is 20.42”. That twice as much as we had last year at the same time. The Loch Lomond dam is at 82.3% full. As a result, we have 750 million more gallons in the reservoir than we did a year ago.

The WSAC (Water Supply Advisory Committee) met for over 10 hours last week and studied scenarios ranging from drought to climate change and tried to pick water supply alternatives that would meet the need in each condition. Solutions which are emerging in all 3 scenarios are immediate implementation of the Master conservation plan, and increased winter harvest from the San Lorenzo river. In the case of extreme drought these 2 fall short of the needed supply. The additional alternative for this case is not yet obvious. WSAC also heard a presentation from Federal Fisheries spokesman, John Ambrose.. Mr. Ambrose stated that the City is going to lose summer water take from the San Lorenzo river.  He also stated that Winter water harvesting is a very good idea, both for Santa Cruz and the Salmonids.

San Lorenzo River winter flows are providing abundant water that could be harvested and stored in Loch Lomond. 500 Million gallons of available water, for which the city already has permits that do not conflict with Fish and Game regulations. 500 million gallons offer insurance against drought. In addition to drought security, The revenue which could be realized from the sale of 500 million gallons to Santa Cruz customers during summer is over $5 million dollars. The cost of harvesting, pumping, storing and treating the water is less than $500,000, so the water sale could generate $4.5 million free cash flow.