Nearly all of Santa Cruz County's domestic water supply is derived from local surface water (streams and reservoirs - 20% of supply) and groundwater (80% of supply), which are fed entirely by precipitation and do not receive any imported water. Partially because Santa Cruz County obtains all of its own water it is somewhat insulated from drought that has a greater impact on the portions of the state that rely on State or Federal water projects for their supply. However, the County continues to face major water supply challenges in that most groundwater basins have more water removed on an annual basis than is replaced and the major water supply agencies do not have sufficient sustainable supplies to meet current and future demand, even with very effective water conservation programs already in place.
Solutions to our water supply problems, such as those encompassed in the Integrated Regional Water Management Plan, need to be sustainable, affordable, environmentally responsible, and flexible. While we work towards matching supply and demand, we must all keep in mind that 1) directly or indirectly we are all sharing the same water resources in this county, 2) our water resources are limited, 3) the environment requires a large part of the natural supply for ecosystems to function properly, 4) all the cheap sources of water are already over-utilized, and therefore, 5) any supplemental supplies will likely be more expensive and difficult to develop. As we embark on large-scale water supply projects, we also must continue every reasonable effort to conserve the water we have, become more flexible in utilizing the various sources of water, and become more efficient in our overall use of water.