SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — San Jose Water is asking residential and commercial customers to voluntarily reduce water use by 15% of their 2019 levels by August 31, or else face possible fines, and making SJW the latest entity to take action in the face of a worsening drought across the western US.

“Everybody’s in this together, if possible,” said Liann Walborsky, Director of Corporate Communications for San Jose Water. “That’s what we ask.”

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The reduction targets will be assessed of the total usage “across the board” and not individually of the company’s one million customers, according to Walborsky.

“If we don’t hit our numbers of 15% by August 31, we may have to reassess and look into the possibility of penalties or drought surcharges,” said Walborsky. “But this is not set in stone at this time. This is just a possibility for the future.”

The new rules focus on outdoor irrigation, which makes up more than 50% of residential water use:

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  • Yards can only be watered two days a week
  • Odd-numbered addresses water on Mondays and Thursdays
  • Even-numbered addresses water on Tuesdays and Fridays
  • Avoid watering between 10 a.m and 8 p.m.
  • Limit watering to 15 minutes per station
  • Avoid washing cars at home
  • Limit the filling of decorative fountains or ornamental lakes/ponds to “no more than one foot, except when fountains or ponds/lakes are drained for repairs, and except to the extent needed to sustain aquatic life in ponds/lakes, provided that such animals are of significant value and have been actively managed within the water feature prior to declaration of a supply shortage level
  • Limit Use of potable water for washing buildings, walkways, or outdoor non-porous hard surfaces

Walborsky called herself an “optimist” about residents doing their part to conserve.

“Our customers have always been very open to conservation, they understand what it’s like to live in California,” said Walborsky. “At the end of the day, we cannot control the weather but we can control our actions.”

County resident John Quinn said a phased-in reduction was preferable to coming out too harsh early on.

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“I think 15% is fine to start with, and adjust as you need to, right? If you see no one’s doing it, or see it’s not enough, bump it up a bit,” said Quinn. “Rather do that and get people bought in, as opposed to coming out with like 50%, and everyone just steadfastly refuses, and then you’re stuck trying to convert those folks.”