Santa Cruz Water School

    Published: December 21, 2015

    Santa Cruz Water School

    While all of California suffers under the current drought, Santa Cruz has a unique problem. Located on Monterey Bay and backed by the Santa Cruz Mountains, the city of 95,000 is effectively cut off from the state’s water grid, relying instead on rainfall to keep the San Lorenzo River and local streams flowing enough to supply the city.

    As a result, the drought has hit Santa Cruz especially hard, and in response, the city has enacted some of state’s harshest penalties for wasting water. Residents are allocated approximately 60 gallons of water a day. Go over that and the fines start with some people paying penalties as high as $25,000.

    In most cases, water wasting isn’t a malicious act. Someone may not realize they have a leaky toilet while someone else may accidently overwater their vegetable garden. Leaving for a long weekend and neglecting to fully turn off landscaping irrigation can be a costly mistake. The city realizes this and also wants to avoid the bureaucratic nightmare of the court appeals that occurred during the last drought, so Toby Goodard of the Santa Cruz Water Department came up with a novel solution: Water School.

    Rather like Traffic School, water-rationing violators who attend Water School have their fines forgiven but only once. The school revolves around a two-hour presentation at a local community center. While there, residents learn how to read their water meters, check for leaks, recycle shower water, and manage their water allotment wisely. The school seems to be having an impact: While 2014 saw 7 percent of Water Department’s customers attend Water School, 2015 saw only 3 percent as of July, 2015.

    Whether you live in Santa Cruz or not, Pelican Water offers a range of products to help you conserve water from water softener alternatives with salt free technology to water-efficient shower filters. After all, every drop we conserve now is an investment in the future.