After a promising start to the winter season, much of California experienced a record-dry January and February.
Because of these critically dry months, we face a third consecutive year of drought.
On March 1, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted its third snowpack survey in the Sierra Nevada, which measured 63% of average. DWR also announced that 2022 marked the driest combined January and February in the Sierra Nevada in more than 100 years of records.
The state’s reservoirs are at 73% of the average for this time of year. DWR said it’s unlikely there will be enough runoff from the snowpack to fill the reservoirs.
These severe drought conditions significantly impact our water supply. Santa Clara County receives more than half of its water from outside the county, making us heavily dependent on Sierra Nevada snowpack.
Locally, a meager .01 inches of rain fell in San José during January and February, the driest first two months of the year on record. San Jose averages about 5.25 inches of rain combined during these months.
That’s why Valley Water is encouraging everyone to continue reducing their water use. In June 2021, the Valley Water Board of Directors established a 15% water use reduction goal for Santa Clara County. Overall, residents, businesses and farmers reduced water use by 8% between June 2021 and January 2022.
We must increase our conservation efforts immediately with the drier spring and summer months around the corner. The easiest way to conserve water is by reducing your outdoor watering or replacing thirsty lawns with a drought-tolerant landscape. Please visit watersavings.org to take advantage of our robust conservation rebates and programs.
Valley Water is doing its part by making smart and necessary investments in water infrastructure and technology. We’ll need to be prepared for severe droughts by developing and managing drought-resilient water supplies, such as increasing our use of recycled and purified water. Our agency is also evaluating water storage projects such as the proposed Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project.
To help pay for these investments and adapt to our rapidly changing climate, Valley Water is aggressively pursuing a once-in-a-generation pool of money at the state and federal levels to be allocated for infrastructure projects.
Our agency is making every effort to secure funding from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a $1.2 trillion package created to help rebuild critical infrastructure nationwide. The federal bill includes historic funding to address many of our nation’s most pressing climate-related concerns, including recycling and water storage projects.
Valley Water is also working to secure any potential state funding to support our many projects aimed to provide safe, clean water, flood protection and environmental stewardship to Santa Clara County.
While Valley Water is hoping a miracle March will deliver some precipitation, it’s unlikely there will be enough to pull us out of the drought. We must work together to continue to reduce our water use and make conservation a California way of life.