Contact: Marty Grimes
November 25, 2015
SAN JOSE—On Tuesday, Nov. 24, the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board passed a resolution extending its call for a water use reduction target of 30 percent relative to 2013 water use, through June 30, 2016 for all of Santa Clara County. The resolution also extended the restriction on outdoor watering of ornamental landscapes with potable water to two days a week.
The board’s resolution recommended that retail water agencies, local municipalities and the County of Santa Clara continue to implement mandatory measures, as needed, to achieve the 30 percent water use reduction target.
In March of 2015, the board adopted the same 30 percent water savings target and watering restriction, but that resolution was set to expire at the end of December 2015. In 2015, through the sustained efforts of residents, businesses, institutions, local governments and water retailers, county water use has dropped 27 percent compared to the same period in 2013, just short of the 30 percent target. Coupled with the water district’s acquisition of supplemental water supplies, the county’s groundwater storage levels are in much better shape than previously projected.
Nevertheless, continuing the current water savings target is necessary to preserve groundwater storage and minimize the risk of land subsidence (ground surface sinking due to overdrawn aquifers).
Santa Clara Valley Water District’s 30 percent target is based on local water supply conditions. The water district’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan, contained with its 2010 Urban Water Management Plan, calls for short-term water use reductions when groundwater storage levels are projected to fall to certain levels.
Currently, the water district estimates that groundwater storage will end the 2015 calendar year at 240,000 acre-feet, falling within the “Severe” or third stage of the 5-stage contingency plan.
At Tuesday’s board meeting, water supply managers cautioned that even if California experiences a very wet winter, local groundwater storage levels are unlikely to return to normal in 2016.
Water supply conditions will become more certain by May of 2016 after the state and federal water projects assess reservoir and snowpack conditions and set the allocations of water deliveries that contractors like Santa Clara Valley Water District can receive in 2016. At that point, the water district board may reconsider its call for water use reductions and restrictions.
Prior to the water district’s action, Governor Brown issued an executive order on Nov. 13, directing the State Water Board to extend water restrictions through October 2016 if drought conditions persist through January 2016.
The text of the board’s resolution is available at https://scvwd.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=4142787&GUID=2BDAA040-F709-45C4-8778-116CC7E9F3D5.
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 1.9 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.