Augmented conservation programs also to continue
Contact: Marty Grimes
November 26, 2014
SAN JOSE—On Tuesday, Nov. 25, the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors unanimously passed a resolution extending its call for a countywide reduction of water use by 20 percent compared to 2013 water use until June 30, 2015. Further, the board approved budget adjustments of $3.8 million to extend augmented water conservation programs and outreach campaigns.
On Feb. 25, 2014, the board approved a resolution setting a countywide water use reduction target equal to 20 percent of 2013 water use through Dec. 31, 2014, and recommended that retail water agencies, local municipalities and the county of Santa Clara implement mandatory measures as needed to achieve the 20 percent target.
Since then, the county’s water use has dropped by approximately 12 percent compared to 2013, short of the 20 percent target. As a result, groundwater storage has dropped to a range of 200,000 to 250,000 acre-feet, which places the county in the “Severe” stage of a five-stage scale, as defined in the district’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan. This plan, part of the district’s Urban Water Management Plan, calls for short-term water use reductions of increasing levels as projected groundwater storage levels drop to certain thresholds.
One of the key measures the district has taken to encourage short- and long-term water use reductions is to augment water conservation programs. On Tuesday, the board approved a budget adjustment of $3 million to continue increased rebate amounts until June 30, 2015. The district’s landscape rebate program offers a rebate of $2 per square foot for converting to low water use landscapes. This amount is higher in some areas that are cost-sharing partners, such as in Palo Alto, Morgan Hill and in the San José Municipal Water System.
In 2014, the landscape rebate program has seen a 500 percent increase in applications and rebated for the conversion of approximately 675,000 square feet of turf. Another 1.4 million square feet of converted landscape is in progress. The $3 million increase follows three earlier budget adjustments in 2014 totaling $8 million.
The board also approved a budget adjustment of $800,000 to fund a water conservation campaign in 2015. Previously, the board approved $750,000 for the district’s summertime “Brown is the New Green” campaign. An immediate campaign would be aimed at encouraging residents to continue conservation efforts through the winter months. A more aggressive marketing campaign will be developed in the event the drought continues for a fourth year in 2015.
District staff also reported to the board on groundwater pond maintenance activities that have been enabled by the drought. Because of the scarcity of surface water, many groundwater recharge ponds are currently empty. The district has taken the opportunity to perform maintenance on 40 of these ponds, removing more than 91,000 cubic yards of accumulated sediment, and 600 kilograms of mercury. This has allowed the district to meet a mandated Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) in the Guadalupe Watershed five years ahead of schedule.
“I think this is a wonderful success story. It falls in that category of ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,’” said board member Barbara Keegan. “I think the story of how we were able to remove over 600 kilos of mercury and meet our TMDL five years ahead of schedule…I think that’s something really we should be very proud of.”
Furthermore, by removing excess sediment in recharge pond facilities, the district anticipates that those 40 ponds will recharge groundwater at three times their previous rate. This will help to expedite the recovery of groundwater basins that have dropped during the drought.
Current water conservation program details, a monthly water supply outlook and a monthly drought report are included on the district’s Drought Watch webpage.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District manages an integrated water resources system that includes the supply of clean, safe water, flood protection and stewardship of streams on behalf of Santa Clara County's 1.8 million residents. The district effectively manages 10 dams and surface water reservoirs, three water treatment plants, an advanced recycled water purification center, a state-of-the-art water quality laboratory, nearly 400 acres of groundwater recharge ponds and more than 275 miles of streams. We provide wholesale water and groundwater management services to local municipalities and private water retailers who deliver drinking water directly to homes and businesses in Santa Clara County.