Jun 17, 2016

Santa Clara Reduces Water Conservation to 20%

District board of directors lowers target, drought continues

Santa Clara, California, drought

The Santa Clara Valley Water District board of directors lowered its water use reduction target to 20%, but emphasized that residents should continue their efforts to conserve in the ongoing drought.

In 2015, the fourth year of drought, the board of directors called for residents to reduce water use by 30% over the amount they used in 2013. In November 2015, the board extended the call to June 2016.

This past winter’s rains were beneficial, helping to fill some surface water reservoirs, increase allocation of imported water and improve local groundwater conditions. However, there is still progress to be made before reaching normal conditions, particularly in relation to groundwater supplies. While water saving measures must continue for the water supplies to recover fully, the board has set a lower water use reduction target in light of the improvements this winter.

“We are still in a drought. We don’t know if next year is going to be another dry year. Four years of drought is not erased by one year of decent rain,” said Board Chair Barbara Keegan. 

“Sometimes the public can feel a certain sense of conservation fatigue,” Keegan said. “The public recognizes we’re still in the drought. We’re talking about a relatively modest reduction.”

The target is based on local water conditions, including groundwater storage, as well as expected imported water supplies, which will be larger this year. If county water users achieve a savings of 20% in 2016, it is estimated that groundwater storage will improve but still fall short of a “normal range.”

Last year, Santa Clara County water users achieved 27% savings over the course of the year. In 2016, water savings have continued at the same rate, with cumulative savings of 27% through April.

“I do really appreciate, and I’m sure the rest of the board does as well, how wonderfully the community has stepped up to meet our request for conservation. We have really had an outstanding response,” Keegan said.

The board also called for local water providers to continue to institute mandatory measures as needed to reach the 20% target and called for restrictions on watering schedules to a maximum of three times per week, which is up from the two day per week schedule most areas of the county have had in place since the spring of 2015.

The water district offers a variety of programs and rebates to help residents and businesses save water in the long term, including a popular landscape rebate program and a free home water audit program called Water Wise House Calls.

View the board agenda item here.

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