The County of Santa Clara encourages residents and businesses to conserve water as the region heads into a third drought year. The County’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a resolution that urges a 15 percent reduction in water usage compared to 2019 levels, as part of efforts to address the ongoing arid conditions.
“Unfortunately, this drought is not going anywhere anytime soon, and each additional year that we continue with these dry conditions, we find ourselves in a more dire situation,” said Board of Supervisors President Mike Wasserman. “I have faith that our community sees the urgency of our decreasing water supply and can come together to ensure we can stretch this precious resource for everyone who lives here.”
In 2022, Santa Clara County saw the driest first three months (January through March) on record. The area is currently in “severe drought,” which means reservoirs are low with exposed banks, there is increased stress on trees and wildlife, and fire season is longer than usual with more fuel for high-intensity burns. In addition, despite repeated calls from officials to conserve, local and statewide levels of water usage have been falling short of reduction targets.
Tuesday’s approved resolution encourages community members to follow conservation goals outlined by the Santa Clara Valley Water District:
- Limit watering of lawns and ornamental landscaping using potable water (by means other than drip irrigation) to no more than two days per week, and not during midday hours when there is more risk of water evaporation;
- Prioritize watering of established trees using low-flow irrigation over watering lawns and ornamental landscaping;
- Avoid using potable water to wash buildings, structures, driveways, patios, parking lots, tennis courts, or other hard-surfaced areas that can instead be swept;
- Avoid using potable water for construction purposes, unless no other source of water can be used; and
- Avoid using potable water to fill decorative fountains, lakes, ponds, or swimming pools.
“As a County administration, our operations are always carried out with sustainability at the forefront, including the way we use and conserve our water supply,” said Jasneet Sharma, Director of the County’s Office of Sustainability. “From large-scale efforts at the commercial, industrial and agricultural levels to simple steps that can be taken at home when washing dishes or watering landscapes, we all have a part to play in keeping this area livable and sustainable for our entire community.”
Since the last major drought in 2014, the County has already implemented several water conservation projects and policies that have significantly reduced water use in County facilities and unincorporated areas, among them: switching to water-conscious landscaping, using recycled water for irrigation, installing low-flow toilets and showerheads at detention centers, adopting leak detection and maintenance protocols, and establishing a native plant demonstration garden at Hellyer County Park. More information on the County’s efforts to protect and conserve water resources can be found on the Sustainability Master Plan website.
WATER WASTE RESTRICTIONS
In 2015, the County of Santa Clara approved a number of permanent water waste restrictions for unincorporated areas that continue to be in effect:
- Do not water outdoor landscapes in a manner that causes runoff
- Do not use a hose to wash a vehicle, unless the hose is equipped with an automatic shut-off valve
- Do not use water to hose off paved areas and hardscapes, such as driveways, parking lots, and sidewalks
- Do not use water in a fountain or decorative water feature, unless the water is recirculated
- Do not water outdoor landscapes during the daylight hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., unless using a bucket, hose equipped with an automatic shutoff valve, or low-flow drip-type irrigation system
- Fix outdoor water leaks within seven days of notification by the County
For businesses in unincorporated areas, the following water uses are prohibited (unless it’s necessary to address an immediate health or safety need, or to comply with a term or condition in a permit issued by a county, state, or federal agency):
- Service of water at a restaurant or public place where food or drinks are sold, unless upon request
- Use of non-water conserving dish wash spray valves at a restaurant or public place where food or drinks are sold
- Failure to use recycled or non-potable water for dust control or soil compaction purposes in construction activities when a source is readily available
- Installation or use of any new single pass cooling systems that circulate water only once to cool equipment before disposing the water
- Installation or use of any new non-recirculating water systems in commercial conveyor car wash systems
- Installation or use of any new non-recirculating water systems in commercial laundry systems
- Failure of a hotel, motel, or other commercial lodging establishment to provide customers with the option of declining daily towel and linen laundry services.
For residents and businesses who want to do their part in saving our water, the Santa Clara Valley Water District has a number of conservation programs that offer rebates for the following:
- Converting residential or commercial high-water use landscapes to drought-friendly ones
- Installation of Graywater Laundry-to-Landscape Systems
- Equipment changes at commercial, industrial, and institutional facilities to reduce water usage
- Installation of submeters and water meters
WATER WASTE COMPLAINTS
The County asks that all water waste complaints in unincorporated Santa Clara County be directed to the Santa Clara Valley Water District in any of the following ways:
- Drought response hotline (408-630-2000)
- Email (WaterWise@valleywater.org)
- Free app for smartphones (available at http://www.valleywater.org/avwapp/)