Valley Water restricts watering in Santa Clara County to no more than two days a week

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.

16 comments

  1. I would highly recommend restricting the watering of lawns to just once a week for a specific length of time or letting them die altogether with this extreme drought. Catching what rain we do receive in rain barrels is a great way to keep any potted plants alive.

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    1. why doesn’t most of the water seep right back into the aquifer ready for repurchase? if that isnt ultimately recycling i guess i don’t know what is. Also without evaporation no condensation.

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      1. When irrigation water is applied efficiently to meet the needs of a lawn and/or plants, there should be minimal water that extends beyond the root zone. The percentage of water that may recharge the groundwater is much smaller than what is lost to the atmosphere by evaporation and evapotranspiration. In our semi-arid climate, every drop of water should be used efficiently to ensure reliable water supplies. For this reason, we have many programs to help the community use water wisely.

        If you have additional questions, we encourage you to visit Valley Water’s Water Conservation webpages here: https://www.valleywater.org/drought-FAQ

        There is more specific information about Outdoor Conservation here: https://www.valleywater.org/saving-water/outdoor-conservation

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  2. Why are you not promoting enhancing our water storage like Uvas, Chesboro, and Coyote (not sure about Lexington)? Anderson is being retrofitted for current seismic standards but will not be finished for 10 years. This is the time to accelerate those projects for when the rain does come.

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    1. Drip irrigation is encouraged as it is more efficient and run times may be adjusted to irrigate at the proper rate. Valley Water asks customers to focus on reducing outdoor and discretionary water use, not essential water use.

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      1. Valley Water is currently evaluating the proposed expansion of Pacheco Reservoir in south Santa Clara County. The project will boost Pacheco Reservoir’s operational capacity from 5,500 acre-feet to up to 140,000 acre-feet, enough to supply up to 1.4 million residents with water for one year in an emergency. You can learn more at valleywater.org/project-updates/a1-pacheco-reservoir-expansion-project

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  3. Two days a week does not indicate how long you can water just how many days. Also, the small tubing watering will use much less water than the big lawn sprinklers. If we have been conserving for many years now it will be harder to reduce the amount of water we use compared to the homes that have not been conserving at all.

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  4. Let’s water just once a week, if that. Install more rocks and cactus. Maybe shower just once every couple days and save the water with a bucket in the shower.

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  5. Are there specific rules about our pools? Or guidelines for refilling pool levels due to evaporation? Most of my water use is due to pool maintenance and washing laundry. I water lawns once a week.

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    1. “Thank you for reaching out. Restrictions on pools, including refiling, new construction, and pool covers are set by individual water retailers and/or cities and may vary throughout the county. We recommend residents and businesses contact their individual water retailers for information about restrictions and/or guidelines. To find your retailer, visit https://www.valleywater.org/your-water/find-your-water-retailer. While some municipalities have requirements already in place for new pools to install pool covers, as the drought worsens, most municipalities will move to restrict pool installation and fillings through their Water Shortage Contingency Plans.

      If you have an existing pool, we strongly recommend using a pool cover when not in use to minimize evaporation and to check your pool frequently for leaks to avoid water waste. For more water savings tips, please visit watersavings.org.”

      Liked by 1 person

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