Mandatory water restrictions ahead in Santa Clara County
Santa Clara County’s largest water supplier on Monday said it was moving forward with plans to declare a water shortage emergency and urge cities and water companies that provide water. water to 2 million residents of San José and surrounding areas to impose mandatory water restrictions.
The move will be the first time since the historic drought of 2012-2016 that residents of Santa Clara County will face mandatory water restrictions. The county will also become the most populous region in California to impose mandatory water restrictions as the state’s drought continues to worsen.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District, a San José-based public body and water wholesaler, has announced that it is looking to reduce water use across the county by 15% from 2019 levels. 33% reduction from 2013 levels. By comparison, during the height of the last drought in California, from 2012 to 2016, Santa Clara County reduced its water use by 28% from levels from 2013.
“This is an emergency,” said Rick Callender, district CEO. “Our water supplies are seriously threatened. “
Other major Bay Area water agencies, including the East Bay Utilities District, Contra Costa Water District, and the San Francisco Utilities Commission, have not requested. so far as the voluntary conservation of their residents, claiming they have an adequate water supply in their reservoirs, but if next winter is dry, mandatory restrictions are likely.
To achieve the kind of reductions, according to the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the agency is asking the dozen cities and private water companies in Silicon Valley that it supplies water to limit the amount of water. ‘watering lawns and landscaping by residents more than three days a week, prohibiting the filling of swimming pools and enforcing other rules against wasting water.
This could include the return of “water cops” or law enforcement officers, who issue warnings or fines to people who overwater landscaping or waste someone else’s water. way, like watering so much that it flows in the street. Many Bay Area cities still have water wastage ordinances on the books from the last drought, but California does not have consistent statewide water wastage rules .
The district’s decision could also prompt cities and water districts to increase water tariffs and re-impose water allowances for each house, with penalties for overuse, as happened during the drought of 2012-2016, in order to meet conservation objectives.
At Campbell’s SummerWinds nursery on Monday morning, garden enthusiasts lamented the potential for water restrictions, though many are already gardening with an eye out for drought.
Lori Salkield, 67, of Santa Clara has said she will not let her precious garden die.
“I’m retired,” she said, her shopping card loaded with ink, yellow and purple ground cover. “My garden is all that I look forward to, and that’s what I got. It’s my little piece of heaven here. I’m not going to let things die. I can conserve in other ways.
The district administration board should approve the drought plan Wednesday and ask Santa Clara County to also declare a local emergency. Because the water district does not have the legal authority to order cities and water companies to impose mandatory water restrictions, they are expected to put measures in place in the weeks and months to come. to help the district achieve its goals.
Callender said a combination of events aligned to create the water scarcity.
First, the federal government cut water allocations for the Delta District after the Sierra Nevada snowpack was insufficient for the second winter in a row and melted largely in May. Locally, precipitation was only 41% of normal in San José this year. And the district’s largest reservoir, Anderson Reservoir near Morgan Hill, is empty for earthquake repairs, after federal dam safety officials ordered reconstruction of the 70-year-old structure, a project that will take 10 years. With Anderson emptied, the district’s 10 tanks on Monday were barely 15% of their capacity.
As a result, the district will have to rely heavily on pumping local groundwater this year and will attempt to purchase water from farming districts in other counties at high prices. It also has a water reserve of about a year stored in the Kern County Semitropical Groundwater Bank.
But if the drought continues next year, with another dry winter, local groundwater levels could fall dangerously low, Callender said. This would cause some wells to dry up, district officials warn, and the risk of the land sinking a few centimeters or even a few feet. This phenomenon is known as sagging, which can lead to cracks in roads, underground pipes and gas pipes.
“Valley Water will protect our groundwater resources by all reasonable means necessary,” said Callender, adding that “every drop of water saved is a drop that we can use in the future”.
Santa Clara County will become the second of nine Bay Area counties where widespread mandatory water restrictions are imposed. The Municipal Water District of Marin on April 20 approved a plan to reduce water consumption by 40%. This plan limits sprinkler irrigation to two days a week, allows golf courses to water only tees and greens, requires residents with swimming pools to have pool covers, prohibits washing cars in public areas. houses and imposes other rules. Violators receive a warning for the first offense, a fine of $ 25 for the second offense, and a fine of $ 250 for higher offenses.