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Community Water Dialogue

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Statement of Purpose:

To provide a forum for a diverse and representative group of Pajaro Valley stakeholders, committed to a common vision, to be educated on the facts behind the water issue and the potential solutions, exchange ideas and leverage each other in order to spur individual and collaborative action within the community. 

We will work together to develop a set of recommendations to influence related water efforts that comprehensively and systematically address the imbalance of water supply and demand while ensuring agricultural viability in the Pajaro Valley.


Letter of Commitment:

The Pajaro Valley is an unusually valuable agricultural resource. Despite being the most northerly coastal valley in California, it is in many ways more mild than those to the south. While the primary crops have changed through the years and will likely continue to change, there is no doubt that as long as there is land and water available, the Pajaro Valley’s extraordinary climate will be sought after for the production of important and highly valued crops. It is our desire to see the Pajaro Valley continue as a vibrant and valuable agricultural resource.

The current method of water use is likely to radically diminish the valley’s future agricultural potential. We are extracting water well in excess of the replenishment capacity that currently exists. It is our desire to reach equilibrium of use and replenishment over the next decade.

As the dream of large scale water importation has faded, we must now find ways to live within our means. Undoubtedly we will have to capture more of our rainfall for recharge and irrigation. We will have to embrace opportunities to reuse water more effectively and learn to take some advantage of the water flows in the Pajaro River. In addition, we must be prepared to conserve even more in our irrigation practices, create fallow periods for our land and perhaps retire some land from production altogether. 

In any case, achieving the goal of equilibrium will disrupt current practices of land and water use. While this disruption is likely to cause significant pain as we adjust to new systems, it is far better than the likely destruction of much of the valley as an agricultural resource that we are now facing.

Landowners, farmers and citizens of this valley will all need to make changes in order to secure the long-term agricultural viability of this precious resource. There are a number of reasons to act now:

1)The slow, steady decline in water quality and quantity is continuing

2)Farming practices are intensifying and could exaggerate the water issues unless they are addressed soon

3)Ultimately, agricultural land values in the valley are likely to be impacted because of water concerns

4)If adjudication were to occur, it would take a long time, involve massive legal expenses and would be unlikely to produce a result as appropriate as one designed by local people.

As landowners and land users benefiting greatly from the uniqueness of this beautiful Valley, we recognize that we are contributors to the issue and must be ready to make very significant changes to “business as usual.” We are prepared to step forward and make those changes in partnership with our colleagues across the valley. It is time for us to guide our future and not just let it happen.

The issues surrounding water in the Pajaro Valley have been extraordinarily divisive over the past several decades. Our sense is that there is significant unity regarding what we are trying to accomplish, but intense disagreement over how to do so. We believe we must simplify the issues first in order to make progress and are seeking concerned stakeholders who share the following:

1)A commitment to protect the Pajaro Valley as an important agriculture resource

2)A recognition that the solution will not be an importation pipeline

3)A willingness to pursue diverse strategies which entail costs and sacrifices in order to bring our aquifer into balance

The human race faces incredibly difficult global issues of resource exploitation and environmental degradation. With so many differences in cultures, wealth and resource use across vast distances, we will be severely challenged to make progress on a global basis. On the other hand, one can cross our little valley on a bicycle in an hour. With only one or two intermediaries we all know each other. All our fates are closely linked in real and tangible ways. We are in a position to create long term solutions for our water issues with the resources we have at hand. We ask our fellow citizens to commit to preserving this precious resource and to set an example that not only will benefit the people of this valley and our two counties, but provide leadership in solving some of the broader issues we all face.

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Working Groups

The 4 working groups within the Community Water Dialogue are listed below with contact information and associated documents.

Land Management and Irrigation Best Practices
Focus: Training and education, and irrigation technology
John E. Eiskamp:

Focus: Centralized, easily accessible and coordinated information about the water issue and progress toward solutions, ongoing engagement
Jacqueline Vazquez:
Focus: Private recharge and catchment projects to increase water supply
Rachel Stillerman:

Big Projects
Focus: College Lake, nightly/in-season use, and winter/off-season storage
Chuck Allen:

If you are interested in joining our commitment and the pursuit of solutions that we can own for ourselves, please email your comments to

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Meeting Updates

At the last meeting on May 15th, there was a tour that higlighted the projects that CWD has been working on for the past two years. The tour began at John E. Eiskamp's ranch, J.E. Farms, where we observed a Hortau tower and John's Wireless Irrigation Network. The Resource Conservation District then demonstrated how they evaluated the efficiency of John's field. The tour ended at the Bokariza/Drobac site where Professor Andy Fisher explained the design and progress of the managed aquifer recharge project that has been underway. For the tour agenda, click here. To see photos from the tour, click here.

On Tuesday, July 10th  from 1pm-4pm the Community Water Dialogue representatives that sit on PVWMA’s Ad Hoc Basin Management Plan (BMP) Committee will host a meeting at the Watsonville Civic Center in Community Room B. (Please note that we will only have one side of the large room this time. Come straight to the meeting rooms on the top floor to get your parking pass which you can place inside your windshield.)

This upcoming meeting will be the community’s first look at the recommendations coming out of the committee. In this forum you will have an opportunity to understand the framework of the recommendations, the due diligence done by the group, the estimated costs associated with those recommendations, and the next steps. This is your opportunity to ask any questions and give input. If you are an inland or coastal grower, we hope you will make an extra effort to attend. Along with our other stakeholder groups, your perspective/questions needs to be well represented.

Please note that on July 18th, the week following our forum, the Committee will present and turn over their recommendation to the PVWMA Board.

As we get closer to our meeting, I will forward a high level outline of the committee’s options and recommendations so you can read them in advance.

We were looking for feedback and the best way to get good grower participation and provide training and outreach to ensure success. We are very excited about the development of this effort and appreciate your input. We also had some updates on other work as well as a presentation highlighting best practices.

To keep the conversation focused and productive we will continue with the same ground rules for participation:

1. You must agree with the principals as laid out in the Statement of Purpose (above)
· A commitment to protect the Pajaro Valley as an important agriculture resource
· A recognition that the solution will not be an importation pipeline
· A willingness to pursue diverse strategies which entail costs and sacrifices in order to bring our aquifer into balance

2. The conversation will be focused on solutions, and will therefore not include:
· A review or rehash of past failures
· Discussion about the past actions or character of any individual community member in relation to the water issue

Please visit the Calendar for upcoming meetings and events regarding the Community Water Dialogue.

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Drought & Irrigation Conservation Conference

On April 10, 2014 the Community Water Dialogue (CWD), in partnership with the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency (PVWMA), the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau, and the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County hosted the 2014 Drought and Irrigation Conference. Held at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, the event featured tools, technology, and resources for growers to save money while improving water use efficiency. 

Presentations also included strategies to improve the soil's ability to hold and infiltrate water. Over 120 people attended, primarily growers or landowners in the Pajaro Valley. Vendors presented innovative technologies to improve irrigation efficiency, such as wireless soil moisture tensioneters, telemetry units for measuring plant water need, pump automation systems, and more. Growers could sign up for technical assistance support through resource management agencies and organizations.

Click here to access presentations and information provided by the conference speakers.

Follow these links to participating resource organizations and vendors:


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