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Reservoirs

What do eggs and reservoirs have in common?

Introduction

Forgive me for asking such a silly question. The intent here is to consider the fact that eating eggs was considered the absolute worst thing you could do to prevent arteriosclerosis, when in fact it has been discovered that it is not. Have reservoirs had a similar analogous fate in regards to destroying the environment, particularly the fish habitat? This section examines this question, and also looks at some possible reservoir sites in the County. All the reservoirs described on this page take over fish habitat. They do however, like Loch Lomond, create a new habitat for lake fish. Even the most ardent environmentalist who is adamantly against dams, will agree that places like Loch Lomond, when full of water, is really not a bad place. I am certain the Newell Creek Canyon was amazingly beautiful place, but so it Loch Lomond, and Santa Cruz's water situation would be dire without it.

There is no question that by constructing a dam, the salmon and steelhead will lose habitat. It has been argued that by constructing reservoirs, it will lead to more growth. This argument has become, in a way, obsolete, with the invention of Desal. Because Desal can provide an infinite amount of water, it can also provide a means for growth without foreseeable end. So, when one considers reservoirs, it now is an issue of enough water for the existing population, it is limited, and cannot compete with Desal to promote more growth. The result of this is the people who favor growth, favor Desal, and the people that are against unlimited growth, are back to considering reservoirs.

The water level of these reservoirs would be an integral part of the model described in the "Solutions" page. The model would require the groundwater basin to be at a minimum of 10 feet above sea level. If conservation efforts fail to maintain this during a drought, water from the reservoirs is used. This is exactly how Loch Lomond is used. Santa Cruz uses only 6% ground water from the Live Oak wells, then they start using the Loch's reserves. The amount of water in the reservoirs determines the length and severity of a drought that can be survived without devastating impacts.

The other argument against reservoirs is that the dams are too close to fault lines and may fail duing a large earthquake. If that's the case, we might as well take down Crystal Springs Dam, which is built 100 yards from the San Andreas, and had little to no damage after the 1906, and 1989 earthquakes.

I selected four reservoirs sites, each with the intent that they would function similar to Loch Lomond, and would provide a major reservoir for each County Supervisoral District. They would function like Loch Lomond by being open to the public as a recreational area. In addition, the water would be pumped out only during wet years to prevent overflow, and also to provide a water source during droughts. A map of the approximate locations of these reservoirs is shown below:CountyMapResLocations

Chittenden Lake

Starting from District 4, this is in the furthest southeast corner of the County and adjacent to Starr Creek Ranch. This is an open space area recently purchased by the Santa Cruz County Land Trust. Most of the land which the reservoir is located is currently be used for grazing cattle. The plan would involve purchasing this parcel, and two others, and combining it with Starr Creek Ranch, and have it as an open space recreational area open year round. Water agencies could help maintain the facilities and provide security, which would be paid for by water ratepayers. Like Loch Lomond, a small fee for entry, boat launch, boat rental etc. Trails and dirt roads would be maintained for hiking, mt biking and fire protection. Other recrectional ideas might be considered. The dam would be constructed north of Hwy 29 and the Aromas Quarry. The San Andreas faultline goes through this quarry. It would look simiar to Lexington reservoir with grassy hillsides, but has a large forested area on the southwest side. This is what it would look like on a topo map: ChittendenLake Topo

 

Soquel Lake
In a similar fashion, Soquel Lake would be created by constructing a dam near the Olive Springs Quarry. Since this area has been developed for access of heavy earth moving equipment, this would help lower the cost of dam construction. There also has been geolgical studies done, which also are very helpful for designing the dam. It is in a heavily wooded area, and may only be suitable for hiking trails for recreational access. The entire canyon is a thick forest, which was much the way Loch Lomond was before it built. The canyon would be logged as part of the construction process and help pay for the dam.Soquel_Lake
Laurel Lake
Further up north, on the northern branch of Soquel Creek, and higher up in elevation, exists a canyon which I drew a reservoir I call Laurel Lake. Unlike the others, this site has several private residential parcels which would be impacted by this construction. It is however, a very remote, isolated canyon, and these issues could be mitigated. This is also a heavily forested canyon. Laurel_Lake
San Vincente Lake
Above Davenport exists the recently purchased Cemex property, and directly on the northern branch of San Vicente creek is another quarry with very steep rock walls. This entire area is going to be part of the "Great Park" which be an expanded State Park, including Big Basin and other neighboring parks and open space areas. Arguably, this canyon cannot be restored to its natural state, and perhaps this is the best thing to do environmentally is to create a reservoir. There is a conveyor belt and other quarry facilites availble, which would lower the construction costs of the dam. This reservoir is very remote, with steep canyons, and would likely be accessed only by hiking, when one considers public recreational use. SanVIncenteLake