As coastal climate change concerns heat up, the issue increasingly has been catalyzing political debate locally.Looking to make proactive change, Santa Cruz’s sustainability and climate action manager is about eight months into the city’s Resilient Coast Santa Cruz initiative, which looks at and plans for how the effects of sea-level rise will come home to roost along the city’s West Cliff Drive, via worsening coastal storms, flooding and cliff erosion. Under the initiative, the city is working to create the West Cliff Drive Adaptation and Management Plan, a two-year project funded with a $353,677 California Department of Transportation grant matched by the city’s $45,825.
As budget season approaches, a valley water district’s board has come under fire for its proposed cost-cutting measures. Felton resident Larry Ford on Thursday asked San Lorenzo Valley Water District board leaders for some “smart innovation” in cost effective operational budgeting, as an alternative to cutting funding to several of its standing environmental programs in the coming year’s budget. “The challenge to us it to take the cost management goal, which I think is admirable if not heroic, and turn it into one that can support all of these community cot this time.”
During long years of drought, homeowners were urged to replace thirsty lawns with drought-tolerant plants native to California, and plants from similar Mediterranean climate zones. Now the drought is officially over, but we have another worry: wildfires. Do drought-resistant plants burn more easily? Are we left with the wrong kind of gardens? The answer is: not really. Hydration makes plants are more fire-resistant, and drought tolerant plants, especially California natives, stay hydrated with less water and hold onto it longer than plants that originate in moister places. Plants to remove or avoid are those that shed bark or are fast growing. Also, plants that have a lot of wax, resin, oils, terpenes, or fats, such as chamise, rosemary, and sagebrush.
The Soquel Creek Water District board members on Tuesday said they were convinced the planned Pure Water Soquel plant should be split into two sites — partly in the city of Santa Cruz and partly in Live Oak. When approving the Pure Water Soquel project in December, board members prioritized building a final-stage purification plant at a lot at the corner of Chanticleer Avenue and Soquel Drive and an initial “tertiary” treatment facility at the city of Santa Cruz’s Wastewater Treatment Facility on California Street. At the same time, the board told district staff to undertake a parallel investigation of building a two-story full purification and tertiary treatment plant at the wastewater facility — so long as the effort did not delay the overall project.
Jim Leap fondly recalls the first Early Girl tomatoes he grew at UC Santa Cruz’s farm in 1990. Sweet and bursting with flavor, they were raised without a single drop of irrigated water. Nearly three decades later, he remains deeply committed to “dry farming” — forsaking modern irrigation and relying on seasonal rainfall to grow tomatoes, winter squash, potatoes, dry beans and corn on the 4-acre San Juan Bautista farm that Leap and his wife, Polly Goldman, have owned for eight years. “What motivated us to dry farm was the environmental ethic,” Goldman said. “We are not using city water or groundwater.”
Desalination, five years after it was last considered a viable water treatment project for Santa Cruz, may soon lose its footing even as a looming backup plan. With a little more than a year before the city is expected to decide how to ensure its long-term water supply security, the Santa Cruz City Council will consider Tuesday all but crossing off construction of the ocean water processing plant, per a recommendation from the city Water Commission, with city Water Department backing.
After 15 years of planning, design, environmental impact assessment and review, and final political approvals, the largest desalination plant in the U.S. went on line at Carlsbad in northern San Diego County in December of 2015. This is the most technologically advanced and energy-efficient desalination facility in the Western Hemisphere and taps the world’s largest reservoir of water, the Pacific Ocean. The Poseidon plant has the capacity to produce 50 million gallons of fresh water a day, which is about 7 to 10 percent of San Diego County’s total water usage. San Diego is an arid region and imports most of its water from somewhere else.