In the News

Soquel Creek board appoints new leader, swears in members

By JM Brown, Santa Cruz Sentinel, 12/17/14

Soquel Creek Water District board member Rick Meyer took the oath of office for his first full four-year term Tuesday alongside new director Carla Christensen, both of whom were victors in the Nov. 4 election.

Returning board member Bruce Jaffe, who won first place in the contest, was sworn in earlier and was not present at Tuesday’s meeting. Jaffe has served on the board 12 years, and Meyer was appointed in 2012.

Election Night results placed candidate Bill McGowan of Aptos in third place, but after absentee and provisional ballots were counted, Christensen, a Capitola resident and retired environmental scientist, had taken the spot. She is the first woman to serve on the board in recent years.

The board also elected new officers Wednesday. Board Vice President Bruce Daniels was elected president, swapping posts with outgoing president Tom LaHue, who became vice president.

“It’s a good idea for us to rotate the presidency occasionally among senior members,” said Meyer, who nominated Daniels. Noting Daniels recently completed his doctorate at UC Santa Cruz, “He may have more time than any of us to devote to the job, which is a big one,” Meyer said.

In the coming year, the board will explore supplemental supply options, with a focus on groundwater replenishment through recycling. The board also will weigh a new conservation program designed to maintain residential savings seen during the past year and offset new water posed by development.

Tuesday, the board approved spending an estimated $280,000 for a consultant to perform the first phase of study on recycling, and approved developing a survey designed to gather public input on the subject.

Although the region has received healthy rainfall so far this fall, district officials have been quick to note that longterm groundwater overdraft is far from solved just because a three-year drought, which more greatly impacts surface water sources, is easing. However, General Manager Kim Adamson said the rain received since October, about 13 inches, may necessitate calling an end to emergency rates and lowering the intensity of the groundwater emergency declared this past spring.

In addition to groundwater replenishment and recycling options, the district looks to work with a neighboring agency, the county and private well owners to better manage the Aptos-Soquel basin.

The district has helped organize a stakeholders meeting for groundwater users in the Mid-County area for Thursday. The meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. in the Capitola Council Chamber, will examine a new state law requiring greater groundwater management and ways in which to collaborate.

Meanwhile, Conservation Manager Ron Duncan reported an increase in some rebates among customers for efficient appliances and devices. During the first half of this fiscal year, nearly as many residential customers as in all of the last fiscal year have taken advantage of a rebate to trade a 3.5 gallon-per-flush toilet for one that uses 0.8 gallons per flush. Rainwater cistern and turf retrofit rebates are also on target to beat last year’s figures, and drip conversion for landscaping more than doubled the first half of this year compared to all of last year.

Groundwater stakeholder meeting

What: Meeting of Soquel Creek Water District, Central Water District and private well owners to discus basin management amid a new state law on groundwater.

When: 7-9 p.m. Thursday

Where: Capitola Council Chamber, 420 Capitola Ave.



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