.Santa Clara County Adopts Tough Water Restrictions

Valley Water puts tough new restrictions in place

State and local agencies gave water users across drought-stricken California one week’s notice before new (and in some cases unprecedented) water restrictions took effect. Locally, the Santa Clara Valley Water District adopted tough restrictions on water use as of June 1.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisor adopted its own strongly worded statement encouraging compliance with the new regulations, as California grapples with a new normal climate that’s drier and hotter—with even greater wildfire risks in the months ahead.

“Santa Clara County is experiencing a drought emergency,” Valley Water Chair Pro Tem John L. Varela said in a statement. “We must all take immediate actions to reduce water use and protect our current and future water supplies.”

The first enforcement program of its kind in Valley Water’s history will impose restrictions on outdoor water use by residents and businesses and includes fines for those who ignore repeated notices to correct violations.

Valley Water’s restrictions on outdoor watering in Santa Clara County are as follows, with potential fines for violators:

  • No watering ornamental lawns more than two days a week.
  • No watering any outdoor landscape between 9am and 6pm.
  • No outdoor watering that results in excessive runoff onto adjacent properties, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots or structures.
  • No watering outdoors during and within 48 hours of a storm that produces at least one-quarter of an inch of rain.

“Our board did not take this action lightly,” Varela said. “While our focus will remain on education to ensure water waste is corrected, we need to take this unprecedented step to protect what little water we have.”

“Please consider letting your lawn go brown this summer—or even better, replacing it with a drought-resistant landscape,” he said. Valley Water offers substantial rebates through a Landscape Rebate Program, and residents and businesses can take advantage of conservation programs by visiting watersavings.org.

The prohibitions apply to properties in Santa Clara County that receive water supplied by Valley Water—directly or indirectly. The enforcement program will complement the existing enforcement programs of water retailers. For specific information, visit valleywater.org/find-my-retailer.

Valley Water said it will notify those who are reported to be wasting water with an educational letter and tips on how to reduce water use. A second reported violation will result in Valley Water visiting the property and leaving a door hanger to document the violation, if possible.

If there is a third violation, Valley Water will refer the water waste to the retailer and request the retailer begin its enforcement process. If the violation persists and the retailer does not complete enforcement, then Valley Water will issue a notice of violation and a fine.

Fines will escalate from $100 to $500. However, Valley Water has the authority to issue a fine up to $10,000 for extraordinary circumstances.

This local enforcement program does not apply to sports fields and grass areas that are regularly used for recreational, civic, school and community events.

The easiest way to reduce water use, say local water experts, is by cutting back on outdoor watering, responsible for about 50% of residential water use. Valley Water is asking residents and businesses to please consider letting lawns go brown this summer or replacing it with a drought-resistant landscape. Valley Water offers signs people can place in yards letting neighbors know they are letting their lawn go brown to save water during the drought.

Valley Water also offers substantial rebates through its Landscape Rebate Program. Residents and businesses can take advantage of the robust conservation programs by visiting watersavings.org.

If the drought emergency worsens and water supplies continue to dwindle, Valley Water said it may require additional reductions in outdoor watering.

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

  • Download the Access Valley Water app.
  • Call 408.630.2000.
  • Email [email protected]
  • Include photos, cross-streets and landmarks with water waste reports whenever possible.

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