February 2019 Newsletter

Recent storms drive seasonal rainfall total
Thanks to recent storms, rainfall for the water year is approximately average for Scotts Valley Water District (SVWD).

As of January 31, SVWD weather station had registered about 21 inches of rain for the season and a storm the first weekend of February pushed that total to 24 inches. The average amount for the first four months of the water year (October through January) is 23 inches.

“While the recent storm has felt like a substantial amount of precipitation, the amount of rainfall is on-par with the average for this time of year,” Scotts Valley Water District Manager Piret Harmon said.

During 2014, the driest year on record since SVWD started tracking in 1982, less than 2 inches of rain had fallen in Scotts Valley through the end of January. By comparison, the area received nearly 50 inches of rain during the same time in 2017 and ended that water year with just over 80 inches of rain.

The average annual rainfall in Scotts Valley is approximately 42 inches, measured from October 1 to September 30.

“There is so much variability from year to year,” Harmon said. “This always presents a challenge for the water agencies striving to run efficient operations.”

Groundwater is the sole source of drinking water for District customers. Groundwater supplies are replenished, or recharged, by rain that seeps down into the cracks and crevices beneath the land’s surface. On average, about 30 percent of rainfall percolates back down to recharge the aquifer.

The District encourages customers to use water wisely by watering three days a week or less, taking advantage of rebates, installing free water-saving devices and more.

Update: Water rate changes  

As of the first billing period of 2019, water rates for Scotts Valley Water District customers have increased. The District’s Board of Directors approved the increase in December 2016, following a cost of service study and public process according to California’s Proposition 218. 

At the time the 5-year rate schedule was approved, the Board made a commitment to evaluate the need for approved rate increases annually. Prior to implementing the 10% increase this year, the District completed the evaluation process and deemed the rate change necessary to continue carrying out the District’s capital improvements program including Orchard Run Water Treatment Plant upgrades, Sequoia Tank rehabilitation, Purified Recycled Water Recharge environmental study and other projects. 

Planning for the future

If we continue to manage water wisely, local water supply can support our community’s future, including growth the city is now experiencing. 

Currently, the District has 30 pending service applications to provide 240 new service connections. These connections are projected to increase potable water demand 3.15% and recycled water demand 5.83%, while providing nearly $5 million in one-time revenue to the District. These funds help the District implement efficient practices and smart technologies to sustainably manage local water resources. 

Total groundwater pumping in the Scotts Valley area has decreased 46 percent from 2000 and the area is currently using less potable water than it was in 1985, when the city’s population was less than 6,200 people.