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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

“Water Police” Likely This Summer as Santa Clara County Misses Drought Targets by Large margin

If you waste water in Santa Clara County, the water police may soon get in the way.

Since last summer, Santa Clara County residents have been asked to cut water use by 15% from 2019 levels should the state’s drought worsen. But they continue to miss out on that goal — and by an increasing amount.

In March, the county’s 2 million residents not only failed to conserve any water, but they did, a 30% increase compared to March 2019, according to newly released data.

Now, faced with the alarming prospect of water shortages, the Santa Clara Valley Water District—a government agency and the county’s largest water provider—is proposing to hire water enforcement officers to help provide residents with so much water. to be issued a fine of up to $500. Watering the street or lawn several times a week or wasting water in other ways.

Not all details have been worked out. The water district’s board is expected to discuss the enforcement plan on Tuesday and vote on a detailed ordinance at its meeting in San Jose on May 24. If the action proceeds as expected, it will be the first time in the history of the agency that it has taken such a step.

“These trends are worrying. We are in a severe drought emergency,” said Aaron Baker, a chief operating officer for the Water District, on Monday. “We are looking to take additional action to help us meet the goals.”

It’s been three years in a row of below-normal rain in California. Overall, 95% of the state is now in severe drought, according to the US Drought Monitor, a weekly federal report. This level is similar to 2014 when the state was in the depths of its last drought, an emergency that began in 2012 and finally ended in 2017 with heavy winter rains.

But this time around, Santa Clara County is in a more dire situation than many other parts of Northern California and the Bay Area. In 2020 federal dam regulators ordered the removal of the district’s largest reservoir, Anderson, near Morgan Hill, to repair the earthquake. The $1.2 billion job, which includes building a massive new outlet tunnel and essentially dismantling and rebuilding a 235-foot-high earthen dam, has been plagued by delays and cost escalation and is not scheduled to be finished until 2030. Is.

On Monday, all the 10 reservoirs of the district were only 24 percent full. The agency has also been told that it will receive very little water from state and federal suppliers. It’s spending millions to buy water from Central Valley farmers with senior water rights and also pumping groundwater to make up the difference.

But this year the sale of water is less. And the district’s projections suggest that without more protection, groundwater in Santa Clara County could fall to dangerously low levels next year if the drought continues into 2023. This can lead to subsidence, a condition where the ground sinks in some places, potentially breaking down roads, building foundations, water lines and gas lines.

“We want to end the year at adequate groundwater levels,” Baker said. “But if we are unable to meet the call for conservation, the groundwater level will be below the level below us, and wells in South County will run dry.”

Water use in Santa Clara County increased by 30% in March 2022 from March 2019 levels – a huge amount that missed the 15% water conservation goal. (Source: Santa Clara Valley Water District)

The Jal District has asked the public to do landscaping no more than 2 days a week. Most cities in Santa Clara County have passed local ordinances requiring this. But some, such as Milpitas and Sunnyvale, still allow 3 days a week. Several others — Palo Alto, Mountain View and Stanford University — put no limit on weekly watering.

More important, cities and private water companies, which have limited water access to 2 days a week, have not implemented the rules.

“Fines aren’t the only thing we need to do, but they’re an important component of a drought strategy,” said Heather Cooley, director of research at the Pacific Institute, an Oakland nonprofit that studies water issues. .

“There are individuals who cannot respond to conservation requests,” she said. “And if people are allowed to waste water, it makes other people feel like ‘I’m not going to save because that’s not a person.’ It creates a culture of ignoring requests.”

The Santa Clara Valley Water District already asks people to report whether residents are watering lawns so much that the water runs into the street or more than twice a week. They can call the district at 408-630-2000 or email waterwise@valleywater.org and the district sends a letter or installs a door hanger to save water wastage. But till now the district has not taken the additional step of imposing fine on the repeat violators.

Data from the Water District shows that many of the wealthiest regions are using the most water—the majority of it is used to water lawns during January, February, and March, the highest rate of any in Northern California since 1849. The driest three months were also to start the year.

While San Jose Water Company’s 1 million customers increased their water use by 28% in March compared to March 2019, residents of Palo Alto increased their water use by 58% over the same time period, and those in Los Altos Purisima Hills Water District registered a growth of 119%.

Cooley said the water used on lawns this summer is water that can’t be used to fight fires or service hospitals or keep sewer systems running. She said the fines may not be enough to encourage incentives in some areas. What does it do to make the names of the biggest water users public?

The East Bay Municipal Utility District does this in a drought. Under rules passed last month, it will begin releasing names later this summer. But many other public agencies do not, even if they are permitted under state law.

“There are users who are not price sensitive,” Cooley said. “It deserves their attention. I don’t know why more agencies are not doing this. Considering the intensity of the drought, we need to use all the tools in the tool box.”

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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