As a horticultural consultant and certified master arborist, Ruth Stiles has gained experience working with water efficiency in the landscape setting. It was her interest in water efficiency that first prompted her to apply for an appointed position to the Scotts Valley Water District (SVWD) board of directors in December 2014 after Jay Mosley vacated the seat. Now, Stiles is up for re-election this November to continue as a board of director for SVWD.
Stiles said she is most interested in continuing to work with the relatively new public agency, the Santa Margarita Groundwater Agency (SMGWA), to explore innovative options to stabilize the basin. In 2017 the SMGWA was formed as a joint powers authority, and is comprised of the Scotts Valley Water District, San Lorenzo Valley Water District, and the County of Santa Cruz, which oversees the groundwater management activities of the Santa Margarita Basin Area in Santa Cruz County, California. Stiles currently serves as a board member for the SMGWA representing the SVWD.
“We are working on a groundwater sustainability plan,” Stiles said about the role of SMGWA. “The idea from the state was they want us to do something locally that reflects our needs and our geology, and our local economics and desires and if we cannot get it together the state will do it.”
When asked about how growth in Scotts Valley might impact water supply and sustainability, Stiles remained neutral. According to Stiles, the role of a board of director for a water district is to make sure there is a supplemental supply of water to handle climate change.
“We have to remember the water district is a water agency but we do not have the authority to plan on growth or no growth,” Stiles said. “When it comes to growth I am just a private citizen thinking about growth.”
As a board member of SVWD, Stiles wants to be sure to keep the water flowing to meet the city’s needs. But she continued to emphasize the water district and the board of directors do not make decisions when it comes to growth. Stiles spoke in favor of using recycled water and applauded the district for continuing to utilize this as a resource.
If re-elected, Stiles has two key priorities she wants to focus on: moving forward with the SMGWA process and replacing and repairing infrastructure. Additionally, Stiles said she wants to continue to look at the district’s supplemental water supply for other options. Stiles said she has recently been interested in learning more about advanced water treatment, something being used in Soquel Creek.
Stiles said she is proud of the work being done with the current board, stating “we are really operating as team and we have an excellent general manager. The culture in the group is respectful and hardworking.”
While Stiles said when she first joined the board she was a bit overwhelmed with the technical information she had to read and understand, feels experience and time in the seat matters. “This is really exciting,” Stiles said. “To be the voice for the environment and make sure what we do is wise and as farseeing as possible.”
Stiles encourages the community to attend SVWD and SMGWA board of director meetings to engage in the conversation and to learn more about what the district is working on. “We are thrilled when we have an audience at the meetings,” Stiles said. “We really invite the community to come in and continue to get more involved.”
Stiles has lived in Scotts Valley a little less than 10 years and runs her own arborist consulting business. Stiles is also a Board Certified Master Arborist and a Certified Tree Risk Assessor. Before becoming an arborist, Stiles worked as a head gardener on an estate in Woodside.
When asked what she sees as her role as a board of director for SVWD, Stiles said, “providing safe sustainable water and to keep it going to the future. And making sure we are not using up a resource and adapting for climate change.”