Emergency Water Restrictions Approved in Santa Clara County

Mandatory water restrictions are on their way to Santa Clara County faucets and hoses, as the area faces “extreme drought” and dismal water supplies.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District board announced a water shortage emergency in a 7-0 vote Wednesday, setting targets to reduce water use countywide by 15% of 2019 levels.

The vote recommends local water retailers and cities enact restrictions and price solutions, hoping to avoid pulling excess water from the area’s ground supply and aquifers—the first mandatory reductions since the 2012-2016 drought.

“There simply isn’t much water in this dry year,” said Aaron Baker, Valley Water District COO.“We recommend action now, because water reduction takes time to implement, and the current condition is unprecedented.”

So what does 15% less water consumption look like?

For now, South Bay residents should refrain from fretting about fewer pots of coffee during endless work cycles or sparse showers during scorching summer heat waves. Instead, the proposed drought prohibitions include limiting watering of ornamental lawns to no more than three days a week and limited private washing of cars, boats or other vehicles without shutoff-nozzle hoses.

Additionally, the water shortage may mean restaurants won’t provide glasses of water unless requested by patrons, and swimming pools will be prohibited from being to be filled or refilled.

Courtesy of Valley Water

Half of Santa Clara County’s water supply is imported from outside county lines, but even those reserves are lower. Santa Clara Valley Water District Board Vice Chairperson Gary Kremen said the reduction is needed after another very dry winter, resulting in low Sierra snow pack. Additionally, these water supply issues are exacerbated by the essentially empty Anderson Reservoir, which was drained in December 2020 for seismic retrofitting and other projects.

Kremen said surging prices have now made buying water on the open market more difficult, as everyone is feeling the supply strain. The San Jose Water Company announced it will continue monitoring its supply, but didn’t yet say whether water rates for its 1 million customers would increase due to the conservation efforts.

Since cutting residential water use isn’t going to actually address the entire water shortage, director Linda LeZotte said a minimalist mindset when folks turn their faucets is one tool to address the need.

She said Valley Water will be working on providing clearer messaging and education about what exactly a 15% reduction of water use looks like—now and in the foreseeable future.

“All of that math really means nothing to someone who’s listening,” LeZotte said. “If you follow the science, this is the new normal. Conservation is going to be a way of life.”

12 Comments

  1. California gets a lot of rain seasonally. Almost NONE of it is captured for reuse. Or properly directed to replenish underground aquifers. The only water captured is the snow in the Sierras.

    How about building a few more LARGE reservoirs to capture the rain and snow runoff? Oh. No. That cannot be done, because it will impede on some other environmental restriction.

    Why not give directions to homeowners on how to properly direct roof runoff to replenish ground water? That seems like an easy ask….

  2. Emergency mask restrictions. Check.

    Emergency Wildfire restrictions. Check.

    Emergency water restrictions. Check.

    We live in a constant state of emergency.

  3. Yes William Ashbless. Our Democrat politicians are very fond of the “emergency” designation and are always eager to declare one. It gives them permission to throw money at things.

  4. William,

    Please provide us with with the adequate amount of WATER?

    Ironically the Wildfires make collecting and reataining water worse. THe Trees absorb the water and SLOWLY evaporate it.

    The Burned out places simply run it off, or have out of controlled evaporation, where the air is so dry here that it doe not result in Rain, at least not in the west coast area.

    In effect more fires less water. And given that if the current trend keeps up for say 2 or 3 years, we are looking at the possiblilty of forced relocation because the water supply will be so critical, there will not be enough supply to reach 50% of the demand.

    It has nothing to do with the GOP or the DNC, it is simply MATH, not enough water means time to leave

  5. ‘….not enough water means it’s time to leave.’

    Feel free.

    California has been in a constant state of drought since I was in grade school.

    They fixed Southern California’s insatiable need for water by shipping water from our Delta to the Southland. What have they done to ensure quality water for us?

    Drought has always been a constant part of the landscape. What we have is an absolute failure by our officials to plan accordingly.

    But, the bullet train from Stockton to Bakersfield is far more important to the people of the Golden State than water. Right?

  6. William,

    I agree that the bureaucrats called piping water from one location to another as “groundwater” was a joke. And that the MATH was able to be manipulated because even though there was a “Drought” the levels in the past are nothing to what is occurring now. Remember that for the Agriculture industry to work there need to be 34 Million Acre-Feet of water let alone the people.

    Thus, when the Agriculture needs are going to be capped, then the agriculture business is going to move elsewhere, and that means that less food will be fresh for CA. It is amazing that people think you can reuse water for crops, you can’t because of chemical contamination, which would need filtration to the same extent as “potable” water.

    The only real solution is water desalination, but that can take at least 3 years to build, we haven’t even started plans.

    Of course your “wit” to say the “I” should leave CA because I point out the poor reasoning behind your commentary was not lost.

    In the end, there so far is no indication that water levels will increase for the rest of the year easily, but it does not look like the la nina or el nino weather pattern is going to be of any help.

    You might at least have to get used to the possibility of WATER RATIONING.

  7. Water rationing Oh No! Lets drain the reservoirs and fix the dams that might break next time we have too much water! Lets fine people for catching rain water in barrels. Lets ban new dam building.
    By all means let shut down gas fired power plants so we can’t desalinate ocean water cheaply.
    I think maybe we could run our politician through a ringer and squeeze the excise water out of them might help a bit.

  8. CYNTHIAJR,

    Yes, most water use is environmental — 50% enviro, 40% ag, 10% “urban”

    “Urban” = Commercial, industrial, residential, typically in metro or urban areas

    In addition to Sikes being built now, there are the North Coast district rivers to tap. (Some have state or federal protection, but since when do Dems care about law if it’s in their way? I have also seen some local kid just say, take the water from Alaska because there’s some water there.)

    One of the easiest things and first things to look at is to raise Shasta Dam. That would be done anyway if water were to be shipped to California from anywhere north — put it into Lake Shasta to get distributed by the existing water system.

    Do you possibly recall:

    https://www.nytimes.com/1979/01/18/archives/us-may-add-200-feet-to-a-coast-dam-cheaper-alternative.html

    It may become more of an issue to tap more Sacramento River and North Coast District water supplies later once the bypass of the Delta someday is built.

  9. The Pacific Institute claims that an average swimming pool in LA loses 65.5 inches per year. However since most pools are only about 16ft 4inches (196) by 33 feet 6 inches (402), that means that you lose a volume by area is 5160876 inches or 84571.6 Liters, and that is just a swimming pool.

    Imagine that occurring in a lake or a reservoir EVERY year. That means you need 65.5 inches of RAIN per year just to keep up with evaporation. The NOAA Environmental Information website indicated that the five-year period of 1995-1999 only had observed winter rain of about 28 inches, only 22 inches in 2000-2004, 20 inches in 2005-2009 and 20 inches in 2010-2015. An average of this sample of 22 inches. This means we lost almost 2 times what we got in rain on average. This on top of the use of the current water supply is putting the state in almost literally a Terminal Course

    WHERE is the other 44 inches coming from, and how soon? And again this is just EVAPORATION and not using it. Unless we get a MAJOR change in rain, the state is going to literally RUN OUT OF WATER. OR we need some major desalination stations built FAST.

  10. The pool you described is 547 sq. ft. A 1/4-acre lot is 10,890 sq. ft. So the pool is only around 5% of the area of the lot it’s on. If your “wit” is spread this thin, then you and several others amount to less than a halfwit. Using your logic, reservoirs should only be built where rainfall exceeds 65 inches per year.

  11. Katy Lauren, San Jose Inside: Why in the holy f_____g hell didn’t San Jose and Santa Clara County Water Districts initiate water rationing three or more years ago??? We have been in a drought for decades. I hike and have seen all of the major reservoirs critically low for many years. Some bone dry. And why are we just now hearing anything about the situation? Not even “If it’s brown, flush it down. If it’s yellow, let it mellow.” Plus the water districts will raise prices because we are conserving, not using enough water for them to make the profit guaranteed by the City and County government. This sad and critical in so many ways. Please step up and see who all is profiting from the lack of water. Oh and just a reminder, nothing living can exist without water. Bye California.

  12. VACANCY VAQUERO you wrote:

    “The pool you described is 547 sq. ft. A 1/4-acre lot is 10,890 sq. ft. So the pool is only around 5% of the area of the lot it’s on. If your “wit” is spread this thin, then you and several others amount to less than a halfwit. Using your logic, reservoirs should only be built where rainfall exceeds 65 inches per year.”

    What you don’t understand is if we had “buried” reservoirs that prevented evaporation, that is the solution to the evaporation problem. However, these will have to be ENORMOUS, coming to about 41,900,000,000,000 liters to prevent the evaporation loss and support the current and future demands. You really are showing very little understanding and worse making the most illogical arguments when you wrote this. But actually, most of the country that has reservoirs do have rainfalls that exceed evaporation.

    This is WHY the only real solution is ocean desalination for the state of CA., and construct underground water transports to prevent evaporation. BUT CA HAS ONE MAJOR PROBLEM, EARTHQUAKES.

    The fact was the approach of the LA Aqueduct and other projects for water in CA simply tapped what at the time was considered an infinite resource of water. Demand was clearly not overcoming the renewal of water. BUT NOW we are seeing it is dramatically shrinking, demand is so high that renewal has not been sustained because the rainfall has not even come close to 65 inches since 1965.

    The best period of rainfall was 28 inches but if evaporation is 65 inches during that time then the PRIMARY sources of water likely lost 3,575 inches, 297 feet depth of water just by the evaporation alone. Now if a CA reservoir started at 200 feet depth in 1965, you see the problem. So yes reservoirs are a BAD idea if they are above ground.

    Look at the MATH, and not just your gut.

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