Drought and Water Conservation

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San Luis Reservoir during the last drought U.S. Drought Monitor classifies all of Santa Clara County in extreme drought, the state’s largest reservoirs are well below average, and snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada are at historic lows. The announcement regarding another reduction in the amount of water Valley Water receives from the federal Central Valley Project directly and adversely impacts our county’s water supply. The Valley Water Board recently voted to declare a Water Shortage Emergency Condition and called for countywide mandatory 15% water use reductions compared to 2019. The time for action is now. Further challenging our local

San Luis Reservoir during the last drought U.S. Drought Monitor classifies all of Santa Clara County in extreme drought, the state’s largest reservoirs are well below average, and snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada are at historic lows. The announcement regarding another reduction in the amount of water Valley Water receives from the federal Central Valley Project directly and adversely impacts our county’s water supply. The Valley Water Board recently voted to declare a Water Shortage Emergency Condition and called for countywide mandatory 15% water use reductions compared to 2019. The time for action is now. Further challenging our local water supply, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered Anderson Reservoir to be drained for public safety as we strengthen the dam. This means our largest reservoir will be down to less than 3% of its capacity – and unable to store much water – for the next 10 years as we construct the Anderson Dam Tunnel Project and Seismic Retrofit Project. . Valley Water is already taking action by withdrawing previously banked water supplies, purchasing emergency water from our partners, and aggressively increasing conservation measures to help meet demand and support our groundwater basins. But this additional reduction in our water supplies now raises the stakes on these measures and makes them more critical than ever.

If you have questions or comments, please submit them below. You can also learn more about our water conservation programs in the "Important Links" section to the right.

  • DRY CREEKS AND THE DROUGHT

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    Is a creek near you running dry? Santa Clara County is in extreme drought per the U.S. Drought Monitor. Rainfall has been well below normal for the past two years and the statewide snowpack is at a minimum. Water storage in local reservoirs is very low compared to historic average due to the low amount of rainfall received and storage in Anderson Reservoir, the largest reservoir in the county, being unavailable due to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) order to drawdown the reservoir. As a result of this limited local water and reduced availability of imported supplies, Valley Water is asking all residents to reduce their water use by 15 percent compared to 2019.

    In order to conserve remaining water supplies for health and safety, Valley Water has suspended most groundwater recharge operations for summer 2021 and possibly longer if the drought continues beyond this year. Valley Water has restricted the delivery of water to the majority of its 102 recharge ponds and also reduced water releases to creeks for in-stream groundwater percolation.

    With the current serious situation, there will be areas of creek that are without water. If you have questions, you can do so by clicking the "Ask a question, Be heard" button. Just register and enter your question and a subject matter expert will respond to you.

    Valley Water’s priorities remain the delivery of safe, clean water from our drinking water treatment plants to local water providers and municipalities and also maintaining healthy groundwater basins for residents and retailers that depend on groundwater pumping to meet their demands. Valley Water will continue to work with local, state, and federal regulatory partners to coordinate on drought impacts on fish and wildlife while conducting water supply operations and maintenance activities in an environmentally sensitive manner.

  • IS YOUR YARD DROUGHT READY? VALLEY WATER REBATES CAN HELP MAKE THE CHANGE!

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    As you likely noticed, the past winter was very dry, leaving most of Santa Clara County in a drought. Conserving water today allows us to be in the best condition possible if we move into an extended period of drought. We can all do our part by reducing the amount of water we use.

    Given that at least half of the water in a typical Santa Clara County home is used outdoors, making sure your yard is drought-ready is a great way to help the environment and save money on your water bill. If you enjoy having a garden, I invite you to consider including beautiful drought-resistant California native plants in your landscape and using water-wise irrigation systems.

    Our Landscape Rebate Program can help you transform your thirsty yard into a beautiful drought-ready landscape and make your irrigation equipment more efficient. So far, nearly 10,000 residents and businesses have already participated in the program.

    We offer $100 for every 100 square feet of lawn you convert, for a maximum of $3,000 for homes and $60,000 for businesses and institutions. Visit www.watersavings.org to get started and apply for your rebate.

    As we ask you to get ready for the potential of an extended drought, we are also getting ready. Valley Water is preparing for climate change and the threat of more frequent and severe droughts by investing in technology and infrastructure now. We are in the process of rebuilding the dam that holds back our largest reservoir, Anderson, to that it can safely withstand an earthquake. We are exploring expanding our water reuse efforts through recycled and purified water technology that can provide millions of gallons of water per day of high-quality, drought-resilient water for drinking and non-drinking purposes.

    Every drop saved today is water that’s available for the future. So, please consider reducing your water usage by replacing a water-thirsty lawn with a beautiful landscape. Your yard will look gorgeous, and you will know that you are saving water and money and helping us all be ready for this and future droughts.

  • KEEPING TREES HEALTHY DURING A DROUGHT

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    Trees are vital parts of our community here in Santa Clara County. They create the air we breathe, help protect water quality, create shady gathering places for humans and wildlife, and can even add value to our homes by keeping them cooler in the summer and by adding year-round curb appeal. All that trees ask for in return is a bit of water.

    During drought periods in California, please remember to water your landscape trees, even though other parts of your yard may go brown or dry during periods of water conservation. Many trees growing in lawns have shallow roots due to typical lawn watering schedules. When irrigation is reduced or stopped altogether, trees can quickly become stressed or die. Most trees benefit from deep, infrequent watering provided by drip irrigation or soaker hoses, or a graywater system. Apply a few inches of mulch to help retain moisture but be sure to keep it at least 6″ away from the trunk of the tree

    Plan to deep water your trees every one to two weeks in the summer months. Watering in the morning or evening is always better to allow the water to percolate into the root zone while temperatures are cooler. Larger trees may require far more water than small younger trees, but all trees prefer a long slow drink of at least 10-20 gallons on average per irrigation cycle. Drought-resistant trees, including many California natives, may need far less water during summer drought periods than other ornamental species. Consult your local arborist or nursery professional if you need advice about the trees in your landscape.

    For more information, visit:

    https://www.southbaygreengardens.org/tree-care

    https://californiareleaf.org/saveourtrees/faqs/

    https://canopy.org/tree-info/caring-for-trees/trees-and-water/save-water-and-trees/

  • VALLEY WATER BOARD CHAIR STATEMENT ON DECLARATION OF WATER SHORTAGE EMERGENCY CONDITION

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    Santa Clara County is in extreme drought. We can’t afford to wait to act as our water supplies are being threatened locally and across California. We are in an emergency and Valley Water must do everything we can to protect our groundwater resources and ensure we can provide safe, clean water to Santa Clara County residents and businesses.

    To better deal with these threats and the emergency they are causing, today my fellow Board Members and I unanimously declared a water shortage emergency condition in Santa Clara County. This declaration, which is among the strongest actions we can take under law, allows Valley Water to work with our retailers, cities and the county to implement regulations and restrictions on the delivery and consumption of water. We also are urging the County of Santa Clara to proclaim a local emergency and join us in underscoring the seriousness of the threats posed by the extreme drought.

    Increased conservation is also necessary to protect local water supplies and guard against groundwater overdraft, subsidence, and dry domestic wells, especially if the drought extends into next year. That’s why my fellow Board Members and I also are calling for a mandatory 15% reduction in water use compared to 2019.

    These actions are necessary as we face further challenges to our local water supply. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered Anderson Reservoir to be drained for public safety as we strengthen the dam. This means the largest surface reservoir in Santa Clara County is out of service while performing this critical work.

    Our imported water supplies are decreasing because of the historic dry season. About 50% of our water supply comes from outside our county, and the depleted Sierra Nevada snowpack caused a significant reduction in the amount of imported water we will receive this year.

    Valley Water is addressing this by working to withdraw previously banked supplies and purchasing emergency water from our partners.

    We thank the many people who acted during the last drought and beyond to reduce their water use significantly. Water saved through the years is water we can use now. We urge the community to keep up that great work.

    I ask our residents, businesses, and farmers to do your part to help us weather this extreme drought by taking part in our many rebate and conservation programs. Valley Water offers robust conservation programs that can help you save water and money, including an increase in our Landscape Rebate Program beginning July 1. Learn about all our rebate programs, conservation tips and how to get free water-saving tools at watersavings.org.

    A reliable supply of safe, clean water is crucial for public health and the economy. We can’t predict how long this drought will last. But we know now is the time for action to protect our groundwater basins and make sure there is enough water for all our communities. Thank you for doing your part.