Cuesta Ridge Conservation Society

In an effort to increase our services and diversify our funding opportunities, we have formed a 501 (c) 3 non-profit. The Cuesta Ridge Conservation Society’s (CRCS) mission is to work to improve natural resource conservation.  CRCS serves as a sister organization to the US-LT RCD, and has three founding members on the Board of Directors.  We are pleased that Bruce Bonifas, Courtney Taylor and Christina Wilkinson have agreed to volunteer their time as Board Members.  If you are interested in serving as a Director, please contact Devin Best by calling (805)434-0396 ext. 116. We would love to have your input as this organization grows to serve our community.

Conservation In Action- Irrigation Evaluations

The Upper Salinas-Las Tablas Resource Conservation District (US-LT RCD), employing the methods of collecting data established by Cal Poly’s Irrigation Training and Research Center, performs irrigation system evaluations with financial support from San Luis Obispo County. Evaluations are conducted to determine “distribution uniformity”, a ratio that demonstrates how evenly water is applied throughout a system. Data is collected in the field and summarized in a confidential report that recommends practices to improve water use efficiency.

This year the US-LT RCD has focused our irrigation evaluations on vineyards overlying the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin. The Paso Robles Groundwater Basin is a large aquifer encompassing approximately 505,000 acres in San Luis Obispo County. Several small communities, rural residences, vineyards, and other irrigated agriculture depend on the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin. Providing landowners with information on how efficiently their irrigation system is operating can help conserve water pumped from the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin.

 

Recharge Basins on the Central Coast

The Central Coast is at the epicenter of the statewide drought.  It is the driest region on the west coast and, with the current predictions, it will remain this way for several years.  The RCD is diligently working to help local growers and stakeholders to bear through “the storm”.  Developing and implementing recharge basins in high priority areas is one way the RCD is working to plan for the future.
Recharge basins are areas where water, albeit it surface or groundwater, can effectively be put into the groundwater basin.  The process is much the same, yet there is a variety of ways to achieve groundwater recharge.  For instance, in urbanized areas, an infiltration or retention basin may be constructed to capture stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces such as roofs and streets.  These typically are low-lying areas that are excavated to capture peak storm runoff, store it for a period of time, and then safely release it back into the groundwater table.  In rural or open areas, these may be wetlands, floodplains, or sediment basins.  In contrast to the urbanized examples listed above, these recharge basins are more holistic and provide flood risk management opportunities, habitat for fish and wildlife, and improve overall water quality by filtering out sediment and other pollutants.  As the landscape has changed to allow for more intense land use from either agriculture or urban/residential development, many of the natural and historical recharge basins have been lost or modified.  Reconnecting, restoring, or developing recharge basins is a simple, cost-effective alternative to improving watershed health and groundwater sustainability.
We have recently applied for funding through a “Conservation Innovation Grant” program in order to develop these recharge basins in North San Luis Obispo County.