Regional Water Resource Management

Environmental Health (EH) has been charged with coordinating water management in the in Santa Cruz County and our region. The emphasis in this coordinating effort by EH and the many water partners in the county is resiliency. Water resiliency activities include integrated regional water management, water supply reliability, and focused efforts to build resiliency and preparedness.

Under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (passed in 2014) groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) have been formed for the three groundwater basins in the county.

The Mid-County Groundwater Basin encompasses the area East of the Santa Margarita basin and includes Live Oak, Soquel, Aptos and Capitola. It provides water to the Soquel Creek and Central Water districts, the City of Santa Cruz, over 20 small water systems and over 1,900 parcels served by private wells. It also provides habitat for endangered species and water for agriculture. This basin is in critical overdraft.

The Pajaro Basin is to the East of Mid-County ending on the South side of the Pajaro River in Monterey County. The basin provides water to the City of Watsonville, numerous private parcels, the thriving agricultural industry and endangered species. This basin is in critical overdraft.

The Santa Margarita Basin forms a roughly triangular area between Felton, Ben Lomond and Scotts Valley. This Basin provides drinking water for the Scotts Valley and San Lorenzo Valley Water Districts, over a dozen small water systems, and around 1,100 parcels served by private wells. Additionally, the groundwater table influences the surface water in the San Lorenzo River, a primary drinking water source for the city of Santa Cruz and a home to endangered species.