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The Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (RCD) is a non-regulatory special district that helps people protect, conserve, and restore natural resources through information, education, and technical assistance programs. The RCD has ongoing projects that promote natural resource conservation in relation to farming and ranching operations and watershed-based habitat restoration.

RCD projects focus on reducing soil erosion, off-farm sediment transport, and non-point source pollution, fostering salmonid and wildlife recovery, and improving ecosystem health. The RCD Board of Directors and staff work closely with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

In 2012, the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (RCDSCC) received funding from the California Department of Water Resources through an Integrated Regional Watershed Management (“IRWM”) grant to conduct the College Lake Multi Objective Management Project, which consists primarily of this study (“Study”) of College Lake to evaluate management alternatives for the lake that serve multiple objectives. The RCDSCC, in combination with a consultant team lead by cbec Inc., and Steering Committee members including the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency and the County of Santa Cruz collaborated to review existing studies, prepare new topographic maps, conduct hydrologic modeling, develop water budgets, and solicit expert, stakeholder and community input.   This work was facilitated by the engagement of a Technical Advisory Committee (“TAC”), including Federal, State, and local natural resource agencies, local farmers and landowners, and biological experts.   The Steering Committee and the TAC considered the goals of the Pajaro Integrated Regional Watershed Management Plan (“IRWMP”) as well as many important factors and stakeholders of particular concern in and around College Lake. This resulting Study evaluates multiple alternatives for lake management and provides recommendations for future study and analysis.



The Study is available pdfhere.

2013 Annual Report final 141014-hr Cover

The RCD pdf2013 Annual Report is now available. This report provides an overview of our work last year including the pdfSalmonid Recovery Plan for San Vicente Watershed, Pacheco Reservoir Hydrologic Study, native amphibian recovery in Larkin Valley, Caltrans mitigation funding for Manabe wetlands restoration, a dam removal on Branciforte Creek, Performance Based Incentives for Conservation in Agriculture (PICA), pdfWatsonville Sloughs Hydrologic Study and more. You can contact us to request a print copy of the Annual Report or to inquire about any of our projects.


On August 6, National Geographic's News Watch published a feature on the Pajaro Community Water Dialogue, a public-private partnership formed by key partners RCD Santa Cruz and Driscoll's Berry Associates.  The article tells the story of how the Community Water Dialogue has been working since 2010 to find innovative solutions to water shortages in a collaborative process. 


Read the article here:

Growing a Solution to California's Groundwater Crisis


Since its formation, the Community Water Dialogue has changed the tone of the discussion around water in the Pajaro Valley from adversarial to solutions-oriented. We have held regular meetings and events to improve our collective understanding of groundwater overdraft in the Pajaro Valley, and to mobilize individual and collective action to address it. The Dialogue has advanced valley wide projects like the Wireless Irrigation Network which helps growers access technology to better understand how much water their plants need through real-time soil moisture tension data. Participating growers report up to 30% water savings. The Community Water Dialogue is also advancing managed aquifer recharge projects to increase water going back into the basin. The group has also provided important technical and community input for the development of the Pajaro Valley Basin Management Plan Update. These projects demonstrate the broad community support and leadership in addressing aquifer overdraft.

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Contact Information

Resource Conservation District
of Santa Cruz County

820 Bay Avenue, Suite 136
Capitola, California 95010

Phone: (831) 464-2950
Fax: (831) 475-3215

RCD Board meetings are held the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 6:30pm.