Watsonville has continued to lead the county and to be very proactive and committed to actions to protect our environment from the negative effects of greenhouse gas emissions and through the conservation of our precious freshwater resources. Over the past few weeks, the council has worked together to enact regulations and ordinances to meet state compliance and protect our local environment. Most of these safeguards cannot be put in place without the active engagement of our entire community. Go Watsonville.
Here is an example of how the community and council will continue to achieve conservation results. California is in its third year of drought. This summer, the state issued emergency water regulations that will remain in effect for a year. In Watsonville, over 90% of our water is pumped from our municipal wells, making us highly dependent on rainfall for all of our water needs.
As part of this new emergency by-law, the city council passed a resolution declaring a level 2 water shortage that sets a 20% water reduction target for the city to meet. Among the many conservation actions included in this new regulation, two stand out:
• Watering non-functional turf is now prohibited (for example, turf that is ornamental only and not regularly used for human recreation or civic or community events).
• Overhead watering of our yards or landscaping is now limited to twice a week with a maximum of 15 minutes and performed before 9 a.m. or after 5 p.m. (exceptions include watering with a hand hose with nozzle nozzle). stoppage or by drip irrigation).
Remember that outdoor watering typically doubles during the summer, so we encourage you to take advantage of city water conservation programs and discounts. To learn how to turn your yard into a drought-tolerant landscape with efficient irrigation and how to apply for a water conservation rebate, call 831-768-3133.
The city offers rebates of $1 per square foot for eligible projects (maximum rebate of $1,000 for residential and $2,000 for commercial). To learn more about these programs and the new regulations, visit cityofwatsonville.org/waterconservation.
Another important action on climate change includes the new program available in the city for the disposal and diversion of organic waste. Single-family residents now benefit from a weekly organics collection for mixed food and yard waste. Residents of multi-family complexes will benefit from organic green cart service by the end of 2022. With generous grants from Central Coast Energy and the AB2766 Vehicle Emissions Reduction Program, the city will purchase an all-electric garbage truck to expand services.
More than 120 tonnes of organic matter is diverted each week to composting instead of landfill; helping Watsonville reduce its methane climate impact by 8%, and further the state’s goal of reducing organics disposed of by 75% by 2025. Organic waste diversion and careful planning will enable the city to reopen our local landfill by 2024. This new phase of our landfill is expected to receive approximately 70 tons of waste per day and serve our community for the next 26 years. We know it’s a lot of work and change is hard, so kudos to our community for putting in the first effort and trying to get into the groove.
As you drive around town this month, I’d like to ask you to forgive the dust and drive carefully. Our street crews and contractors will be busy working to improve the streets of our city. The city recently awarded a contract to Monterey Peninsula Engineering to resurface four of our municipal streets. “Digs” will be carried out on Hangar Way, Clifford Avenue, Martinelli Street and Stanford Avenue.
This is the first of similar projects that will be carried out to spot repairs where the pavement has failed. The repairs will be similar to recent work done by Caltrans on East Lake Avenue. Work will be carried out one lane at a time to minimize congestion. Streets will remain open during construction, but traffic controls will be in place. The City expects the work to be done in August. Thank you for your patience.
So excited to continue to tread carefully out of the pandemic and build resilience in our community. This year, we were able to bring back some of our favorite community events and enthusiastically celebrate our roots, culture and diverse heritage together.
This month, we are resuming our Strawberry Festival. We will be rocking strawberries August 5-7. Vendors of crafts, food and drink will fill the street surrounding the square, and a carnival stage and live music will entertain attendees of all ages. If you haven’t seen this year’s poster yet, I encourage you to stop by our municipal booth during the festival to purchase a unique Strawberry Festival poster designed by our talented Priscilla Martinez. It’s still his best.
To cap off a busy month of August, we’re bringing our third annual Wine, Beer and Art Walk back to the heart of downtown. Come join us in Santa Cruz County for this fabulous event that will feature 22 stations along our main downtown corridor hosting our best local wineries and breweries. If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, there’s still time to do so, visit eventbrite.com. I promise you will find your favorite wine or beer along the walk. Plus, you can enjoy fantastic art exhibits, live music, and delicious snacks provided by our local downtown merchants.
See you soon in town, Watsonville.
Ari Parker is the mayor of Watsonville.