Drought Prompts Valley Water to Ban Watering Commercial, Industrial, Institutional Lawns

As Santa Clara County suffers through a third straight year of  severe drought, then a historic heat wave last week, the Valley Water Board of Directors unanimously voted Tuesday to strengthen existing rules aimed at reducing outdoor watering.

The board amended the existing outdoor watering ordinance to allow Valley Water to enforce the State of California’s ban against watering decorative lawns on commercial, industrial and institutional properties.

Valley Water also streamlined its coordination with water retailers to speed up the time it takes to handle water waste cases and avoid duplication of enforcement efforts.

“The Valley Water Board of Directors will consider every option available to help protect our county’s water supply,” Valley Water Chair Pro Tem John L. Varela said in a statement. “We must all work together so we can protect our current and future water supply.”

The updated outdoor watering ordinance went into effect immediately. The following restrictions previously approved by the Valley Water directors in April remain in place:

  • Watering ornamental lawns no more than two days a week
  • Watering any outdoor landscape between 9am and 6pm
  • Any outdoor watering that results in runoff
  • Watering outdoors during and within 48 hours of rainfall

In June 2021, the Valley Water Board of Directors established a 15% water use reduction goal for Santa Clara County compared to 2019. After months of steady progress, the county reached this goal in July, saving 16% compared to July 2019.

The county also exceeded Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call for a reduction of 15% compared to 2020. Santa Clara County used 19% less water in July when compared to July 2020, well above the statewide average of a 10% savings.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has taken steps to reduce their water use during this drought and encourage you to keep up the great work,” Varela said. “We don’t know how much rain and snow this winter will bring us. We must continue to reduce our water use, especially if this drought carries into 2023. We owe it to our kids, family and community not to waste water.”


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