On Talk of the Bay, host Suki Wessling is joined by three people who have dedicated their careers to water management. Sierra Ryan, County of Santa Cruz Water Resources Program Manager, oversees the water resources program at the County of Santa Cruz, which covers programs such as fisheries monitoring, stream wood evaluations, groundwater management, drought response, water quality monitoring, drinking water regulations for small water systems, and regional collaboration. Michael Cahn is an Irrigation and Water Resources Farm Advisor responsible for research and education on water quality and quantity issues related to agriculture in Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz Counties. Brian Lockwood is General Manager of the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency, where he has worked for the last 18 years. He is a professional geologist and certified hydrogeologist in the state of California.
Despite the wet winter we just endured, it’s not time to celebrate. It’s time to take stock of what we need to do to insure continued health of our aquifers, our ecosystems, our agricultural sector, and our communities. Sierra, Brian, and Michael talk about the multi-agency planning that is happening on the Central Coast to plan and prepare for the future. Predictions point to a continuation of our recent pattern: drought in some years; deluge in others. The natural water systems in our area were formed during years of consistent, slow rain—the sort of months long drizzle that we tend to complain about. Given the likelihood that this pattern is in the past, our local agencies are joining forces to plan for a future of capturing water as it comes in deluges, preserving it for years when rainfall is light.
There is a general lack of understanding in the mainstream press about the great variety of water systems in California. Santa Cruz County, for example, is water independent. Media reports about snowpack and Colorado River levels miss the fact that some areas of California are cut off completely from the rest of the state’s water system. Each area of the country’s most biodiverse state has its own water challenges. But it’s clear that in Santa Cruz County, our water agencies are meeting that challenge. Listen in to this wide-ranging but well-informed conversation, from how farmers are learning to conserve water depending on which crop they plant, to how housing development in Santa Cruz is water wise and ready to meet the challenges of the future.
For more information:
- Water Department of Santa Cruz
- College Lake Integrated Resources Management Project from PV Water
- UCANR Irrigation and Water Resources
- This show is a follow-up to a discussion in 2021 about efforts to mitigate drought and climate change in the county: Water Policy Clarified