• “As landowners and land users benefiting greatly from the uniqueness of this beautiful valley, we recognize that we are contributors to the issue [of aquifer overdraft] and must be ready to make very significant changes to business as usual. We are prepared to step forward and make those changes in partnership with our colleagues across the valley.”- Commitment letter from the founders of the CWD.

  • “It is time for us to guide our future and not just let it happen...All our fates are closely linked in real and tangible ways. We ask our fellow citizens to commit to preserving this precious resource and provide leadership.”

    - Commitment letter from the founders of the CWD.

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Landowners within the Pajaro Valley catalyzed the formation of the Community Water Dialogue in 2010. Frustrated by the intractable, divisive tone around the water issue in the valley, a group of landowners published a call to action in the local paper. In what is now referred to as the pdfCommitment Letter, these landowners acknowledged that the valley was facing a pressing water supply issue and that agriculture was part of the problem and the solution. They outlined a set of core commitments: 1) a commitment to protect the Pajaro Valley as an important agriculture resource; 2) a recognition that the solution will not be an importation pipeline; and 3) a willingness to pursue diverse strategies which entail costs and sacrifices in order to bring the aquifer into balance. These landowners called on members of the community who shared these commitments to join them in seeking and advancing local, collaborative solutions. The community responded with an outpouring of support, and the Community Water Dialogue was born. Landowners, representing over 70% of the land in the valley, attended the first CWD meeting along with growers, agency partners, researchers, conservationists, and other interested stakeholders all seeking collaborative solutions. Today, the CWD continues to meet and to advance individual and collective action to address water issues in the valley. Through the CWD, producers and landowners in the Pajaro Valley have demonstrated both the need for and the willingness to make management changes that will measurably improve water supply and water quality to sustain the viability of agriculture in the valley.


To provide a forum for a diverse and representative group of Pajaro Valley stakeholders, committed to a common vision, to be educated on the facts behind the water issue and the potential solutions, exchange ideas and leverage each other in order to spur individual and collaborative action within the community.

We will work together to develop a set of recommendations to influence related water efforts that comprehensively and systematically address the imbalance of water supply and demand while ensuring agricultural viability in the Pajaro Valley.

Ground Rules for Participation

Participants of the Community Water Dialogue share the following guiding principles, as laid out in the pdfCommitment Letter:

a)    A commitment to protect the Pajaro Valley as an important agricultural resource
b)    A recognition that the solution will not be an importation pipeline
c)    A willingness to pursue diverse strategies which entail costs and sacrifices in order to bring our aquifer into balance

The conversation is focused on solutions, and therefore does not include:

a)    A review or rehash of past failures
b)    Discussion about the past actions or character of any individual community member in relation to the water issue


The Community Water Dialogue is an open forum comprised of community participants, Action Teams, Advisory Teams, and a Guidance Team. A fiscal sponsor and staff further facilitate and support the work of the CWD.

Diverse community participants can engage in the CWD by attending our open meetings once agreeing to the guiding principles of the CWD.

Action Teams advance priorities identified by the Community. 

Action Teams

Action Teams are the primary mechanism through which the CWD moves from dialogue to action to advance its goals. Community members interested in being more actively involved in the CWD are welcome and encouraged to participate in a number of Action Teams which have formed around priority activities identified by the community. Those teams include:

  • Land Management and Irrigation Best Practices – This team is identifying and encouraging widespread use of best management practices related to water conservation, with two main categories: efficient water use, and crop management systems. Efficient water use includes efficiency during design of irrigation systems and efficiency during application of water. Learn more about this team’s accomplishments and ongoing projects here:
  • Managed Aquifer Recharge – This team works to identify and discuss projects that abate groundwater overdraft of the Pajaro Valley hydrologic basin using groundwater recharge methods. The team has a goal of achieving 1000 AF of recharge per year through 10 managed aquifer recharge projects. Learn more about this team’s accomplishments and ongoing projects here:
  • Big Projects to increase supply – This team serves as the liaison group between the CWD and larger water projects occurring by other agencies in the Pajaro Valley including the PVWMA. Learn more about this team’s accomplishments and ongoing projects
  • Communications – This team’s overall purpose is to oversee and coordinate the internal and external CWD communications, to increase the number of stakeholders involved in the CWD and to keep the community aware of what is happening and progress being made. Find CWD progress reports here:

A Guidance Team provides ongoing leadership. Representatives on the Guidance Team include: two landowners, two or three ag industry representatives (at least one industry representative, at least one grower representative, not all representing the same company), one representative from each Action Team, the NRCS, and the RCD.

The Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County (RCDSCC) serves as the fiscal sponsor of the CWD, providing coordination staff and project administration.

Contact 831-464-2950 or email today to learn more!

Action Teams

Want to be a part of bringing dialogue to action? Get involved in an Action Team! Contact an Action Team chair to learn more:

Kevin Healy ()

Chuck Allen ()

Emily Paddock ()

Lisa Lurie ()