Santa Clara County and much of California are enduring a third year of drought. The region and state just experienced the driest January through March on record, further threatening our water supplies.
State and local reservoir levels are well below normal. The snowpack measured on April 1 in the Sierra Nevada was the fifth smallest on record, which significantly impacts the amount of imported water Santa Clara County will receive this year.
Because of these conditions, the Valley Water Board of Directors unanimously voted on April 12, 2022, to restrict the watering of lawns and ornamental landscapes in Santa Clara to no more than two days a week. The Board of Directors also voted to prohibit watering during the warmest parts of the day (for example, no irrigation between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.)
By watering at night and in the early morning, there will be a decreased chance of losing water to evaporation, especially during hot afternoons in the summer and fall.
In June 2021, the Valley Water Board of Directors established a 15% water use reduction goal for Santa Clara County compared to 2019. Overall, residents, businesses and farmers reduced water use by 6% between June 2021 and February 2022.
Typically, outdoor water use represents about half of household water use. Valley Water believes Santa Clara County can achieve a 15% reduction this year if everyone limits outdoor watering to no more than twice a week.
“Our Board of Directors knows that we must be proactive to combat this drought emergency,” Valley Water Chair Pro Tem John L. Varela said. “We need everyone in Santa Clara County to do their part and reduce water use. The easiest way to achieve this is by cutting back on outdoor watering.”
Valley Water, as a countywide wholesale water and groundwater management agency, relies on local retailers (municipalities such as the City of Sunnyvale and private companies such as San Jose Water) to deliver water to homes and businesses throughout the county. You can find your water retailer here.
These retailers enact and implement local water use ordinances and bill their customers directly. Valley Water has maintained a key leadership role in garnering action from the county, cities, and retailers within our service area to meet the 15% water conservation goal.
The Board of Directors also adopted other recommendations to help households reduce their water use, including:
- Restrict irrigation in a manner that does not cause runoff
- Call for uniform watering days and times among water retailers who do not have existing restrictions on days and times
- Prioritizing tree irrigation over lawns and ornamental landscapes
Valley Water will continue to expand programs that promote efficient watering and reduce runoff. Our agency can help residents and businesses reduce water use through a variety of programs, including a rebate to replace 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.
During this severe drought, Valley Water is purchasing emergency water on the open market to make sure Santa Clara County has enough safe, clean water. Unfortunately, as water becomes scarce during this severe drought, it also becomes more expensive. The best way to save money is to save water.
Valley Water significantly increased funding of our conservation programs to ensure Santa Clara County continues to have enough safe, clean water during the drought.
Please reduce your outdoor watering to no more than two days a week. Together we can reach the 15% water reduction goal.