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May 2019

Water Conservation is Still Key

Loch Lomond Reservoir in the Santa Cruz Mountains

Record rainfalls over the winter have topped up reservoirs and streams. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, California is currently drought-free for the first time since 2011, with abnormally dry conditions in less than 7 percent of the state. In a USA Today article published in March, Newsha Ajami, Stanford University’s Director of Urban Water Policy, described the drought report and this winter’s rain and snow as exciting, but then cautioned not to take this as an indication of a wet future.

Since we live in an area that is prone to prolonged dry conditions, it is always important to maintain good conservation practices. And while much of California benefits from snowfall in the Sierras as well as large federal and state water projects, here in Santa Cruz County we rely primarily on surface and ground water stored in reservoirs, rivers, and streams.

To be a good water steward, it is recommended that you keep your daily water use to about 45 gallons per person. To get an idea of how quickly water use adds up, every flush takes about 1.2 gallons of water and every minute in the shower uses almost two gallons. And don’t forget, saving water can also save you money (on your water bill).

Here are some water-wise tips:

  • Don't let water run while washing dishes by hand
  • Run the dishwasher only when full
  • Soak pots and pans instead of letting water run
  • Repair leaky faucets and toilets
    • Check your toilets for leaks by adding food coloring to the tank. If the color appears in the bowl after 15 minutes, you have a leak
  • Install low flow shower heads and aerators on faucets (check for free offers)
  • Install a high-efficiency toilet (check for rebates)
  • Take five-minute (or less) showers
  • Turn water off while brushing teeth or shaving
  • Run the washing machine with only full loads
  • Save water outdoors with water-smart gardening and landscaping

For more tips to save water, plus information on rebates  to help pay for water saving upgrades (and even free devices such as shower heads and faucet aerators!) visit

Congratulations to Gary Watson,

Emergency Operations Center Volunteer!

Each year the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors publicly recognizes the star contributors who graciously give their time and talents to serve with the County's volunteer programs. We are pleased to announce that Gary Watson, the Emergency Operations Center’s volunteer extraordinaire, was presented with this award for his outstanding service at the Board of Supervisors meeting on April 16, 2019.

Gary has logged more than 600 hours since he began volunteering with this group about a year ago. An experienced ham radio operator, he has been appointed the Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) Assistant District Emergency Coordinator, conducting weekly tests of the EOC radio equipment, as well as providing maintenance and coordination with other operators. He has also participated in three major exercises that tested our interoperable communications capabilities, helping to address gaps and vulnerabilities to improve our EOC operations. Ham radio operators play an important role in providing crucial communications services during emergencies, such as earthquakes and floods, as well as planned events, such as the Santa Cruz County Fair.

In addition to Gary’s steadfast commitment to a variety of radio-related jobs, he took on the big task of learning and operating our new security badge machine, which included the creation of a new database and templates for the badge ID program.

Gary’s can-do spirit, willingness to seek out and learn new skills, and positive approach to people and problems all contribute to how much we enjoy having him on our team!

Outstanding Volunteer Gary Watson (on right) receives his award

Emergency Alerts and Warnings

CodeRED, the regional reverse 911 emergency notification service for Santa Cruz County, keeps residents informed and prepared in the event of an emergency. Examples of notices include evacuation notices, bio-terrorism alerts, missing person reports, and severe weather alerts. Cell (mobile) phones and VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phones must be registered to receive alertsClick here to register.                                                                                             Note: Traditional landline telephones are already in the notification system.

Nixle is a free notification service that keeps you up-to-date about emergency weather events, road closings, public safety advisories, disasters, and other relevant information from public safety departments and schools. Click here to sign up for alerts from local agencies.                                                                  If you live or work in different counties, or if you have relatives or friends in other areas from which you want to receive information, you can sign up for alerts in other areas.

Santa Cruz County Citizen Connect
Download the app to report local issues such as potholes, abandoned vehicles, trash, dead deer, and environmental health complaints.
You can also register to vote, view or pay property tax bills, explore the county’s parks system, and conduct other business.

Be prepared--download the FEMA app for your mobile phone for free on the App Store and Google Play. Learn what to do before, during and after emergencies with safety tips and receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States. Get safety reminders and customize your emergency checklist.

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