The Magnificent Pajaro Valley Water Tour

Last Friday’s ‘Magnificent Pajaro Valley Water Tour was close to perfect, living up to its name (that’s really what we called the tour). Everyone who joined, including the regional board members, were genuinely interested in the information that was presented, asked questions, participated, and gave great feedback. The first stop of the tour was the Harkins Slough Recharge Basin.

Harkins Slough Recharge Basin

Harkins Slough Recharge Basin

The Harkins Slough Recharge Basin seasonally stores wet weather flows from Harkins Slough. Stored water is then pumped from a series of wells and delivered to coastal farms.

The take-home message was that Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) is part of the solution for water supply and has the potential to benefit water quality through denitrification. We need to ensure that these projects continue to be implemented and studied in order to better understand their benefits.

The next sites we visited were two farms. At Taylor Farms, we made the point that vegetable growers are using the available technology and California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) data to improve water and fertilizer use efficiency as much as possible.

Michael Cahn describes the Soil Nitrate Quick Test

Farm Advisor Michael Cahn describes the Nitrate Quick Test

At Reiter Berry Farms, strawberry and raspberry growers explained how nutrient management and irrigation efficiency go hand in hand (ie. nutrient leaching is a result of overwatering; less water = less leaching). Growers described their various management strategies which result in water and nutrient conservation.

Grower explains how he irrigates  his crops efficiently

It was definitely a successful tour. We gained a lot of knowledge along with a lot of berries (free berries = awesome). Most importantly, we left the tour with an optimistic view about the fact that something IS being done about the water resource issue here in the Pajaro Valley.

The Vineyard

During the last few weeks my supervisor and I have been busy preparing for tomorrow’s regional board field tour.

The objectives of this “water” tour are to (1) raise awareness of water resource issues in the Pajaro Valley, (2) highlight water conservation as a strategy for protecting water supply and reducing nitrate leaching, and (3) emphasize industry led conservation efforts. We will go to various different sites in Watsonville, each of which somehow demonstrates one or more of these objectives. I’m looking forward to it, and I’ll blog some photos of the tour next week!

In the midst of all the meetings, research, writing, and emailing, I often go to meetings or workshops that employees of the RCD Santa Cruz County are invited to. Yesterday we got to spend almost all work day on an organic vineyard doing various tests for soil quality.


Organic Vineyard in Santa Cruz   County

It was all hands on (hands in the dirt), extremely fun, and I learned a lot about different soil types. Next week I get to spend two days at a workshop that will teach different practices related to pest management on organic farms.



There’s no better way of learning anything than going out there and doing it yourself!