Water Use at UCSC


    Where does UCSC's Water Come From?

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    All of UC Santa Cruz’s water comes from the Santa Cruz Water Department (SCWD) potable water supply. The campus receives potable water through four connections to the SCWD system, which is pumped to three consecutive in-line reservoirs at separate elevations ranging from 400 feet to 1,113 feet at a point in the northern campus. A campus water system then distributes water to campus facilities in eight separate pressure zones.

    The campus water demand represents about 6% of the total SCWD service area demand. The City of Santa Cruz projects that the City’s water supply in average water years is sufficient to meet existing and projected new water demand through about 2020 (including development under the UCSC 2005 LRDP and the Coastal Long Range Development Plan for the Marine Science Campus).

    On average, about 75 percent of the City’s annual water supply needs are met by surface diversions from the coastal streams and the San Lorenzo river. The SCWD provides water to nearly 91,300 customers through approximately 24,350 service connections in the city of Santa Cruz, the campus, a portion of the unincorporated area of Santa Cruz County, and a small portion of the City of Capitola. The SCWD water service area is approximately 20 square miles in size.

    The SCWD system relies entirely on rainfall, surface runoff, and groundwater infiltration occurring within watersheds located in Santa Cruz County. No water is purchased from state or federal sources or imported to the region from outside the Santa Cruz areas. The SCWD currently has four water supply sources: 1) surface water diversions from three creeks and one natural spring on the Santa Cruz Country Coast; 2) surface water diversions from San Lorenzo River; 3) surface water from Loch Lomond Reservoir; 4) groundwater extracted from the Purisima Formation by the Live Oak well system.

    (source: December 2013 Water Action Plan)


  • How Much Water does UCSC Use?

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    main campus annual water use




    main campus annual water use per weighted campus user


    Learn more about how UCSC plans to continue reducing its water use here.

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  • How does UCSC Use its Water?

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    main campus water usage by category




    main campus annual irrigation water use


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