SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Santa Clara County’s main water provider announced Monday that it plans to declare a water shortage emergency and urge local municipalities to impose water use restrictions.
Representatives from the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) said on Monday that the area needs to decrease water use by 15% from 2019 levels countywide as the outlook on the area’s water levels continues to look dire.READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Will You Get Another Relief Payment?
“We’re having problems buying water on the open market because everyone else is buying it at the same time. The price is like 10 times what it was two years ago,” said Vice-Chair of the SCCVW Board of Directors Gary Kremen.
The SCVWD is the largest water agency to push local governments for mandatory water restrictions.
“This is an emergency,” Valley Water CEO Rick Callender said. “Our water supplies are in serious jeopardy. Valley Water will protect our groundwater resources by all reasonable means necessary and ensure we can provide safe, clean water to Santa Clara County. Every drop of water saved is a drop we can use in the future.”
The water district does not have the direct authority to impose water restrictions, relying instead on cities and direct water service providers to enact mandatory cuts. The water district want to leave individual cities and communities the flexibility to draft local rules.
“About half the water use during the summer time goes to landscape irrigation,” said UC Davis Environmental Engineering Professor Jay Lund.
Professor Lund says many of the water cuts will come from landscaping — green lawns and summer gardens — much to the disappointment of gardeners.READ MORE: Sonoma Enacts Mandatory 20% Water Use Reduction, Limits Irrigation to 2 Days a Week
“As my garden grows, I want to continue harvesting vegetables and watering plants. It gives me a lot of joy to be in my garden. So it would be hard to have water restrictions,” said Cindy Garcia, an avid gardener who lives in the South Bay.
As drought conditions continue to worsen throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, many local agencies in charge of water have pushed for residents to decrease usage. For example, water agencies in the Tri-Valley area (which includes Livermore, Dublin and San Ramon) recently asked locals to reduce their usage by 10%. In some areas like Marin County, residents failed to meet this voluntary goal.
But the Santa Clara Valley Water District wants mandatory reductions for the first time since the historic drought period from 2012-2016. The 15% mandatory decrease is actually less than the 25% that the water district hopes residents will voluntarily impose on themselves.
Causing further issues, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered Anderson Reservoir to be drained during a massive renovation project. Anderson Reservoir is the largest drinking water reservoir and it’s expected to be unusable for the next 10 years during the Anderson Dam Tunnel Project and Seismic Retrofit Project.
The district’s plan requests residents and businesses to decrease lawn watering to no more than three days a week, among other restrictions. More solutions and strategies were expected to be debated at Santa Clara Valley Water District’s Board of Directors meeting Monday afternoon. The board expects to vote on the recommendations, which will be sent to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors for a vote.
“The announcement today underscores the severity of the drought, and the time to act is now,” Valley Water Board Chair Tony Estremera declared in a statement.MORE NEWS: Wildfires Continue To Burn Along State’s Coast, Sierra; Endangers Buddhist Monastery
Devin Fehley contributed to this story.