By Eileen Cross

One hundred percent of our Santa Cruz drinking water supply comes from local sources, and we only have one reservoir in which to store it. Should anything happen to the Loch Lomond reservoir, the City would be up a creek without a drinking water supply. A wildfire in the watershed, for example, would be catastrophic.

This is why the Watershed section of our Santa Cruz Water Department takes their job of drinking water source protection so seriously.




In addition to source protection and environmental and regulatory compliance, the Watershed
folks are responsible for managing the Loch Lomond Recreation Area in a way that encourages interaction with nature, while also protecting our drinking water reservoir. That can often be a delicate balance.

“Loch Lomond Recreation Area offers a great outdoor experience,” said Chris Berry, Watershed Compliance Manager. “We offer boating, fishing, hiking and picnicking. At the same time, there are recreational activities that aren’t appropriate to have near a drinking water supply—like activities that can put bad stuff in the water, or activities that can otherwise put the watershed at risk by causing erosion or increasing the risk of fire.”

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Upper Group Picnic Area
The drinking water source watersheds that serve Santa Cruz are also home to several endangered species like steelhead and coho salmon, Western pond turtle and the red-legged frog. The Watershed staff has responsibilities to protect them, too.
Western Pond Turtle
“There are so many factors that go into helping species like coho recover,” said Berry, “and there are many that we can’t control. But we can contribute to positive outcomes by doing things like leaving enough water in streams and rivers to support fish life cycles, improving water quality, or doing what we can to prevent wildfires in the watersheds.”

The Loch Lomond Recreation Area is a 180 acre reservoir and part of the 2,800 acre watershed land holdings that our City of Santa Cruz Water Department manages in the Newell Creek watershed. The park is open daily from 7 a.m. through sunset March through October. There is a $6 entry fee per vehicle.

For more information, please visit http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/departments/water/watershed/recreation.

When not managing watersheds you can find Chris Berry enjoying music, playing in the ocean or tromping around our local watersheds for fun.

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City of Santa Cruz Watershed Compliance Manager Chris Berry; Photo by Patrick the Pirate



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