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December 8, 2023

Guest Column | Water and Roads at Forefront of District 5

In November, we are focused on two issues that are often in the forefront of people’s minds throughout Santa Cruz County and especially in District 5—water and roads.

Let’s start with water. My office has spent a great deal of time on shaping a better future for the customers of Big Basin Water Company, which has struggled for many years to provide a consistently safe and adequate water supply. 

As you may have read, state regulators filed a lawsuit against the privately owned Boulder Creek company this summer, which resulted in Superior Court Judge Timothy Volkmann granting the state’s request to appoint a receiver who will manage the drinking water side of the company and restore stability.

The County has been working closely with the receiver since their appointment in early October and has committed to providing some emergency funding to avoid a public health crisis for the 500-plus customers of Big Basin after the company’s contracted operator and potential buyer, Central States Water Resources, abruptly quit.

Representatives from Silver & Wright, LLP, the law firm appointed as receiver, joined my office for a town hall meeting with Big Basin Water customers on Nov. 2 to answer questions about the status of the system and immediate plans to shore up the company’s finances. You can watch a video of the meeting on the County’s YouTube page at tinyurl.com/ye77556z.

In close partnership with my state colleagues, Sen. John Laird and Assemblymember Gail Pellerin, we will continue making every effort to provide support to the receiver and Big Basin customers throughout the challenging weeks and months ahead, including what I hope will be efforts to eventually consolidate with the publicly owned San Lorenzo Valley Water District.

This all comes at a time when SLVWD faces a big shift: the retirement of District Manager Rick Rogers after a 48-year career. 

Rick has been a steady figure, both in operations and administration, and a wonderful community partner. He played a key role in the Santa Margarita Groundwater Agency’s establishment of a state-required Groundwater Sustainability Plan in partnership with Scotts Valley Water District, the County and other stakeholders. He also played critical roles in SLVWD’s merger with Felton and Lompico water agencies.

Lompico is a good place to segue into the topic of addressing repairs on privately maintained roads. Lompico neighbors are invited to a community meeting Nov. 14, at which residents will join representatives from the County and the Santa Cruz Local Area Formation Commission to present information about the benefits of forming a County Service Area to make roadway access and safety improvements. The meeting will be from 6-7:30pm at the Zayante Fire Protection District, 7700 East Zayante Road.

Meanwhile, the County’s Department of Community Development and Infrastructure and Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience are partnering with the Regional Transportation Commission to develop a Climate Adaptation Vulnerability Assessment and Transportation Priorities Report (CAVA) for County-maintained roads in the unincorporated areas, as well as the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line. 

The agencies are seeking public input via online surveys about priorities for a more resilient transportation infrastructure. Visit sccrtc.org/cava/ to learn more and participate.

Lastly, the County is working on its Local Road Safety Plan, a framework that will identify, analyze and prioritize improvements on County-maintained roads, which comprise about 600 miles of roadway. Visit the project website at santacruzcountysafestreets.com for more information.

Next month, our column will focus on preparing for winter. Last year, we experienced unprecedented atmospheric river events that caused flooding and other damage throughout District 5 and the County overall. 

In collaboration with the Office of Response, Recovery and Resilience, we will be planning a town hall meeting to help residents prepare, and we are supporting the County’s ongoing efforts to update its Emergency Operations Plan.

Bruce McPherson is the Fifth District Supervisor for the County of Santa Cruz, including the San Lorenzo Valley and parts of the cities of Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley. His views are his own and not necessarily those of the Press Banner.

Bruce McPherson
Bruce McPherson
Bruce McPherson is the Fifth District Supervisor for the County of Santa Cruz, including the San Lorenzo Valley and parts of the cities of Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley.


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