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 tensiometers, 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.
The CWD is a Pajaro Valley community effort to address pressing concerns of aquifer overdraft through a commitment to local solutions and shared sacrifice. Growers, resource conservationists, agencies, and researchers in the Pajaro Valley have been working together through the CWD since 2010 to improve understanding of groundwater overdraft, and to mobilize individual and collective action to address it. This year’s unprecedented drought has added pressure to already stressed aquifers in California and put agriculture at risk. The CWD responded to community concern over the drought by providing a forum for growers and other experts to share best practices, and vendors to show the latest technological advances in water management. High attendance at the event showed broad community concern and support, and demonstrated the value of the CWD as a community-driven mechanism for developing and implementing pro-active solutions to improve the resiliency of the Pajaro Valley basin over the long term.
“It’s a critical situation,” said Brian Lockwood, PVWMA hydrologist. “That’s why it’s so good to see so many people participating.” A Pajaro Valley grower stated, “This meeting was one of the best I have attended for a real long time. Great take home material and information.” Another grower added, “We have to be able to use water more efficiently.”
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