The California Dept. of Water Resources announced today an initial 5% allocation of imported water from the State Water Project for the Santa Clara Valley Water District, as drought conditions continue.
The state also indicated it will work with water agencies to provide water beyond the 5% to help meet minimum human health and safety needs, according to Valley Water.
“This initial allocation serves as a stark reminder that the drought emergency is not over,” Valley Water Chair Pro Tem John L. Varela said. “We’re thankful for the early season rainfall and we hope to see more storms this winter. But we must continue to reduce our water use. We owe it to our kids, family and community not to waste water.”
Despite some early season rain, the U.S. Drought Monitor classifies 99.48% of California in a drought. About 85% of the state, and all of Santa Clara County, are classified as being in a severe, extreme or exceptional drought, according to water officials.
“These dry conditions have a significant impact on the water supply outlook in Santa Clara County,” said Valley Water in a statement today. “Climate change is resulting in hotter and more extreme weather events, with potentially longer and more severe droughts.”
Experts say California needs at least one well-above-average water year, and maybe more, to end the drought and replenish reservoirs.
Currently, Valley Water’s reservoirs and the state’s reservoirs are well below their historical averages for this time of year, according to the water district.
During the past few years, Valley Water augmented Santa Clara County’s water supply and groundwater basins by withdrawing water previously stored in a groundwater “bank” outside the county, purchasing emergency water from willing sellers and aggressively increasing conservation.
“If we endure a fourth year of drought, purchasing these emergency water supplies may be harder to obtain,” the water district said in today’s statement.
The Valley Water Board of Directors has taken several steps to help Santa Clara County use less water during the drought emergency.
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, Santa Clara County water consumers reached this goal in July and August, saving 16% compared to July 2019.
The Valley Water board also implemented rules aimed at reducing outdoor watering during the drought. Some of the rules include watering ornamental lawns no more than two days a week, and a restriction on outdoor watering during and within 48 hours of rainfall.