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 severe 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 severe 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.

Have a question or comment about drought or water conservation?

Please feel free to submit your questions or comments here.

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    Can I wash my car in my driveway?

    Mark asked 3 months ago

    Hello,

    Thank you for question. The answer depends on your water retailer. Some retailers have restrictions related to only washing cars at facilities that reuse water. We recommend washing cars at facilities that reuse water. This is for both conservation and surface water quality reasons.

    If you live in a water retailer service area that allows washing cars at home, then you will need to use a shut-off nozzle on your hose. You also need to keep any runoff out of the storm drain, and instead redirect as much runoff as possible to your landscaping.

    • To find your water retailer, check out Valley Water’s Find My Retailer page
    • For a free shut-off nozzle and other water saving tools, visit our Online Shopping Cart
    • For car wash coupons and other discounts, click here
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    How do you report a business over using water such as to clean the sidewalk!

    Rvv asked 4 months ago

    Thanks for writing,

    Valley Water’s water waste inspectors respond to reports of water waste and violations of local water use restrictions. To report water waste, you may select any of these convenient options:

    1. Download our Access Valley Water app or go to access.valleywater.org/customer/s/ and select the “Conserve Water & Save with Rebates” category, or search “water waste” in the search bar.

    2. Call (408) 630-2000

    3. Email WaterWise@valleywater.org Please include photos, cross-streets and landmarks with water waste reports whenever possible.

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    Willow Ranch Mobile Home Community’s HOA mandates 90% “green Cover” for all Home sites. Succulents, cactus, and mulch are excluded as landscaping. Is this restriction compliant with Santa Clara County Water conservation?

    Bud asked 5 months ago

    Dear resident,

    Thank you for reaching out to us.

    State law prohibits Homeowners Associations from fining or obstructing homeowners implementing conservation measures, including installing water-efficient landscaping, during drought. And when there is no longer a drought state of emergency, HOAs cannot prevent them from maintaining that landscaping or require them to remove it. As per the California Water Boards HOA Fact Sheet:

    When Not in Drought:

    • An HOA cannot fine or require a homeowner to reverse or remove the water-efficient landscaping measures upon the conclusion of the drought state of emergency (Civil Code section 4735(e)). 
    • An HOA cannot enforce architectural or landscaping guidelines or policies that prohibit either the use of low water-using plants as a replacement of existing turf, or the use of artificial turf or any other synthetic surface that resembles grass (Civil Code section 4735(a)). 

     

    During and In Response to a Declared Drought Emergency:

    • An HOA cannot issue a fine or assessment on a homeowner for reducing or eliminating the watering of vegetation or lawns during a state or locally-declared drought emergency (Civil Code section 4735(c)). 
    • An HOA cannot enforce architectural or landscaping guidelines or policies that prohibit, or have the effect of prohibiting, compliance with most local water-efficient landscape ordinances.

    While Valley Water currently has no restriction that would conflict with the HOA’s landscaping rules you have listed, we encourage low water use landscaping and offer a rebate for the conversion of lawns or pools to lower water using alternatives.  Applicants are required to install enough low water use plants to cover 50% of the converted lawn area at maturity, however, if 90% was needed by the HOA, that would be allowed in the rebate as long as the plants used were low water using. While cactus and succulents are on the rebate program’s Qualifying Plant List, the extensive list also includes other low water using plants that would likely align with your reequipments.  Adding a covering of mulch to bare soil is strongly recommended in all cases, however, for rebate purposes, we would also allow the installation of rocks or gravel as the ground cover instead of mulch. 

    You can read our program rules and requirements found here.

    For more information about our Landscape Rebate Program, visit watersavings.org and you can also speak directly with a member of the team by emailing conservation@valleywater.org.

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    Seems the 15% savings is the same goal as last year. Besides this new penalty, the water company charges 3x the going rate on excess usage over the 15% and deducts the units used over the limit to the next months allocation. If you fail once, then your going to continue to fail until you pay infinitely for no water at all. This process is or should be illegal since it's not easy to track water usage day to day. Please give me a day to day report on my water usage, THEN you can put this type of control in place. There is nothing but down side for the customer. I've lived in Silicon valley for 43 years and no new water supply has been created in that timeframe. Seems your not doing your job. We are setup for emergency after emergency to justify raising prices up and up. Pretty soon we will be paying infinitely for no water what so ever... I guess that's the plan.

    solarguy asked 7 months ago

    Thank you for the feedback. We strive to provide affordable water to retailers, and retailers are responsible for billing customers. Surcharge programs are also administered by retailers.

    While retailers do help Valley Water in achieving its mandatory conservation target, they can best address questions or concerns on those programs as they administer them.

    Valley Water’s Find My Water Retailer webpage provides direct links to your local water waste rules and for many water retailers, you’ll also find guides for how to read your water meter. The principle is the same with most types of meters. You might find this guide from San Jose Water Company helpful. The most reliable way to check your water use between receiving water bills is to become familiar with how to read your water meter.

    We also recommend you visit our Understanding Your Water Use page. Here, you’ll find step-by-step information of how to measure and track your water usage, as well as helpful videos to guide you every step of the way in ensuring you have control and understanding of your water use.

    In addition to our dozens of conservation rebate programs and free services for the public, Valley Water has helped fund advancement of near-real time water meters called Advanced Metering Infrastructure. We also help fund Home Water Use Reports for many water retailers that help the community interpret their water bill, track their water usage and connect with relevant rebate programs to save water. We also offer rebates for flow sensors to catch leaks in irrigation systems. Through our rebate programs to improve indoor and outdoor watering efficiency, the community has saved nearly 77,000 acre-feet per year, which is more than half of what we import every year from outside the county.

    Finally, Valley Water continues to work on new water sources as identified in our Water Supply Master Plan through recycled water, new storage and stormwater capture.

    You can learn more by visiting, www.watersavings.org.

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    We got a letter about surcharges and it got damaged. Can you send information about the surcharges and how we can make sure that we are not exceeding the limit?

    Lonix asked about 1 year ago

    Hello! Thank you for your question. Valley Water is a water wholesaler that mostly provides water to local water retailers serving homes and businesses. Please visit this site or use this tool to look up the water retailer serving your home. You should be able to follow up with your retailer for that information or possibly request a new copy of the letter. 

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    With all due respect, we need Valley Water's actions to match its words when it comes to water conservation. For years, community groups like Save Palo Alto's Groundwater have tried to convince Valley Water to take some steps to curtail the pumping and dumping of groundwater when building in areas where the water table is high. We're told to let our plants die and take short showers because every drop counts - and we do it all because we know this crisis is serious. But these savings pale in comparison to the water wasted during the digging of even one basement. Palo Alto has measured anywhere from 6 to 40 million gallons of groundwater pumped out per basement during construction. It's heartbreaking to see and hear that pumped fresh water gushing into the storm drains and ending in the Bay. As Dr. Ajami has said, "there's still fluff in the system". Will this be the year that Valley Water takes action on this "fluff"?

    ENigenda asked over 1 year ago

    Hi,

    During our Groundwater Management Plan public meeting, we received a question of similar nature. You can see Valley Water staff's response on the meeting recording (at 1:05:31) at the link below. 

    https://youtu.be/uyXUb_A9fmo?t=3931

    During this meeting, staff discussed the nature of that shallow groundwater and how water used during dewatering generally ends up in the same place it would have under natural conditions but takes a different path to get there. 

    Staff also discussed the challenges of creating the necessary infrastructure to recapture that water at temporary construction sites and the water quality issues related to reusing that water in a meaningful way. Valley Water will continue to explore strategies to better understand dewatering and the potential for expanded reuse.


Page last updated: 06 Dec 2022, 04:13 PM