By Max Darrow

SAN JOSE (KPIX) — As federal scientists predict California is likely to see little relief from the drought this winter, one South Bay water company is handing down it’s toughest drought restrictions in years.

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San Jose Water officials recently got the green light from the California Public Utilities Commission to impose drought surcharges to customers who use more water than they’re supposed to.

“You’ve got to conserve, or we’ll have to charge you these surcharges,” said San Jose Water spokesperson Liann Walborsky.

Customers are supposed to cut their water usage down to 15% below 2019 levels. Customers who use more than their allocated amount will have to pay a surcharge of $7.13 per unit. One unit is equivalent to about 748 gallons of water.

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“We really have no choice. I mean, California — especially where we are — is in a severe drought,” Walborsky said. “For those people who have been keeping their water usage low and following everything we’ve asked, you probably have a good chance of being in good shape.”

Campbell resident Frank Harder told KPIX he thinks some people might focus more on conserving water if it means they don’t have to spend the extra cash.

“You might argue that might not be enough. But there are families that will be impacted. I think it’s probably the right amount to begin with,” he said. “Drought was always something imaginary. Right? You heard about it, but it would never impact you directly. But now it does.”

San Jose Water has more than a million customers throughout the South Bay. This is the first time since 2016 the agency has put drought restrictions in place.

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“We have people who are super savers, people who use 5 CCF’s per month. We are not asking them to cut down,” Walborsky said.