By the Numbers: Surviving the Drought

20 percent

It’s been two decades since water officials have asked the public to cut back this much on water consumption. But with reservoirs at just a third of capacity and rain a rarity aside from the last couple weeks, the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) is asking residents to dial down water use by 20 percent. If that seems like a tall order, suck it up and remember that this is the worst drought in 40 years. SCVWD spokesman Marty Grimes suggests no-cost fixes like using a broom instead of a hose to clean sidewalks and watering the lawn before 5am before the sun soaks up all the moisture. If money’s no option, install low-flow faucets and toilets, which can be subsidized with district rebates. Pat Ferraro, a water policy wonk and ex-director of the SCVWD, has a few more pointers: catch cold shower water to re-use in the garden, get a free faucet aerator from the water district and put food scraps in a compost bin instead of the garbage disposal.

For more tips, go to


  1. Please take a look at the website for more ideas about how to conserve water. The site has an interactive water use calculator as well as information on rebate programs that the Santa Clara Valley Water District offers. Conserving water may be easier than you think!

    Barbara Keegan
    Santa Clara Valley Water District
    Director District 2

  2. We are asked to save water and it is right not to waste this invaluable resource. Yet, why haven’t elected representatives enacted a “moratorium” on the issuances of any more residential housing permits?

    The issue of Desertification (man-made-deserts) have been around for many, many years.

    California should invest heavily in coastal desalination projects, water storage and delivery systems and seriously restrict residential growth.

  3. Hey David, the population is still going to grow. Drought is not birth control. We just have to be smart and use recycled water. Have your heard of South Bay Water Recycling, now that is a drought proof supply.

    • I was there when that idiocy program was conceived under the Hammer administration. There are several problems with South Bay Water Recycling, chief amongst them is its funding source. The program has been losing millions every year it has been in operation.

      As to your comment that the population will continue to grow, true. They can live in North Dakota or Maine. I am unsympathetic to unrestrained residential growth.

      Thanks for your opinion.

      David S. Wall

      • David has a point. We have political leaders (no names) who will attend an “economic summit” rallying the troops for more housing, usually the low income variety, saying we need to build XXX thousands of more units.
        then later that same day – the pol will show up at some water conservation function urging people to “save.”
        I have to wonder when all this new housing gets built – will the housing units come with their own water source?

  4. There are anti growth people who use water supply for their own agenda. If you look at the data for the last 30 years you will see even with 25% population growth water use has trended downward for many reasons. you can have additional housing and conservation, they are not mutually exclusive. By the way I would like my son and grand kids to say here and not to move to Maine or ND as David suggests.

  5. When 5 out of the 10 reservoirs in Santa Clara County cannot be filled to capacity because they are seismically unsafe, we will never have enough water. Why doesn’t the State or the Water District address that problem? Heck, why doesn’t anyone even report on that problem?

  6. Two things that I find most frustrating about the approach to the water issues we are facing: One is the lack of discussion regarding overwatering and broken systems (sprinklers, drinking fountains) operated by businesses and municipalities. I often see daily concrete watering and ill maintained water systems at schools and parks to where fields turn to mud and playing fields become unplayable. The other is the constant barrage of mail that is being sent to residents about the residential insurance program for broken sewer mains. The expense of this mailing program should go to managing budgetary items or possibly into direct notification (and penalization) of commercial property owners, property management firms and municipalities that are wasting water. Too much effort and expense is going to residents.

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