In the News

SANTA CRUZ LIFTS WATERING BAN

By Genevieve Bookwalter

Santa Cruz Sentinel,  04/01/2008

SANTA CRUZ -- City water customers, once again, can water their roses in the middle of the afternoon.


Photo by Bill Lovejoy
Watering restrictions for Santa Cruz water department customers could be eased after a winter of near normal rains

Water restrictions were turned off for Santa Cruzans on Monday, as this year's rainfall has come in at 90 percent of normal. Those living in the San Lorenzo Valley, however, are still under orders not to hose their lawns or gardens between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Not that city residents should just let their hoses run into the street, said Bill Kocher, Santa Cruz Water Department director. Residents still should conserve, as this year's rainfall was still below normal. But with water spilling out of Loch Lomond reservoir, the city's largest fresh-water reservoir, Kocher said the city doesn't face the threat of a water shortage that it did in 2007. The reservoir holds about 3 billion gallons, which is enough to provide water for a year to about 3,000 households.

"We're not good, but we're not bad enough that we need to be asking people to agree to mandatory restrictions," Kocher said.

Water officials banned outdoor daytime watering in both Santa Cruz and the San Lorenzo Valley last summer to preserve a shrinking supply after a particularly dry winter. Watering in the early morning or evening prevents water from blowing off the ground or evaporating soon after it is sprayed, Kocher said.

The Santa Cruz Water Department serves 25,000 customers between Davenport and Capitola. The San Lorenzo Valley Water District serves 5,900 customers in Boulder Creek, Brookdale, Ben Lomond, Zayante and Scotts Valley.

As a result of the restrictions, Santa Cruz customers used about 12 percent less water than they would in an average year, Kocher said. San Lorenzo Valley residents are aiming for a 20 percent reduction in average water use.

Valley residents are still on a water watch because half of their water supply is drawn from below ground, said district Manager Jim Mueller. Above-ground reservoirs, like Loch Lomond, fill much faster than underground aquifers, as it takes time for rain to percolate through the soil, Mueller said.

Unless some serious storms roll through this month, valley customers are likely to be watering their gardens at night for another summer, he said.

 Forecaster Steve Anderson with the National Weather Service in Monterey said Monday that a half-inch of rain could fall Wednesday, but that no other precipitation is on the horizon.

 However, "you can pretty much bet on rain occurring around April 19 or 20. That's when the Sea Otter Classic is down here in Monterey," Anderson joked. It usually rains on at least one of the four-day cycling event, he said.

Contact G. Bookwalter at 706-3286 or gbookwalter@santacruzsentinel.com.

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