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Water Conservation Master Plan

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City of Santa Cruz Water Conservation Master Plan

Strengthening water conservation efforts had been identified as top priority by the Santa Cruz City Council, the City’s Water Commission, and more recently by the City’s Water Supply Alternatives Committee (WSAC).  Although the city has always had a robust water conservation program going back many years, the WSAC recommended that there be additional effort made in expanding conservation programs into the future, with an emphasis on peak season water savings. 

With this in mind the city has completed an updated Water Conservation Master Plan.  The overall goal of the updated plan was to define the next generation of water conservation activities and serve as a road map to help the community achieve maximum, practical water use efficiency. The plan was completed and finalized in January 2017.



The process used to develop the plan included analyzing individual conservation measures and different sets of measures or “programs” using a sophisticated model. Overall, there were 35 recommended measures identified. The recommended programs can be divided into five categories ranging from utility measures to landscape measures. This chart shows the unit cost of water saved for the recommended measures ($ per Million Gallons). Many of the programs that have the lowest unit cost of water saved, such as conservation pricing and landscape budget-based rates, are already being implemented. Other programs are scheduled to be implemented in the coming years.  This chart shows each of the recommended programs and the planned schedule of implementation.  

The following chart shows the water savings potential (in million gallons per year) of implementing just the plumbing code, the current conservation program with the plumbing code, and the recommended program with the plumbing code. The plumbing code refers to water savings that would be achieved through the passive implementation of the plumbing code standards, which will gradually bring down water use in new plumbing fixtures over time. The city can choose between simply paying nothing and letting the plumbing codes do the work of saving water, or the city could continue on with the current conservation programs in addition to the plumbing codes. A third alternative would be to implement the full suite of recommended programs. This last option is the most expensive but also yields the most savings.

 Figure 8.4

The following chart shows what the water demand projections look like when you include the plumbing code savings as well as the recommend conservation program measure savings.