Reality Check

Reality Check

Vets the truthfulness of claims and measures the efficacy of public policy

Reality Check: Residents And Businesses Are Being Asked To Conserve Water During Drought

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    NEWSLETTERS

    It’s been a few months now since the Santa Clara Valley Water District recommended that water suppliers, like the San Jose Water Company, ask their customers to reduce water usage by 20 percent because of the pervasive drought. NBC Bay Area's Sam Brock reports. (Published Friday, May 16, 2014)

    It’s been a few months now since the Santa Clara Valley Water District recommended that water suppliers, like the San Jose Water Company, ask their customers to reduce water usage by 20 percent because of the pervasive drought.

    In a week's time, the Water District will release statistics about how close Santa Clara County has come to meeting the 20 percent goal.

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    However, there seems to be some confusion over the 20 percent reduction in terms of who is affected and if there are penalties. Namely, is it just residents, and not businesses, who are being asked to cut back, and are penalties being slapped on those who don't comply?

    The answers? Both residents and businesses are being asked to scale back. And, at this point, nearly every water supplier in the district -- there are 13 different suppliers -- aren't serving up fines or strong-arming residents or businesses to reduce their water usage.

    The Water District is actually incentivizing both residents and businesses to conserve water.

    Jerry De La Piedra, who manages water conservation for the Santa Clara Valley Water District, explained to NBC Bay Area that there are a number of programs aimed at helping all water consumers – both residential and business – conserve water. They include rebate programs for installing water efficient toilets and washing machines as well as converting lawns and other high-water using landscapes to low-water landscaping.

    Despite these all being voluntary programs, De La Piedra said "our phones are ringing off the hook right now."

    While there's been a lot of news about how residents are doing their part, De La Piedra said businesses weren't exactly sitting pat. "In some programs, business response has increased by 300% since last year,” De La Piedra said.

    The Water District pointed to a number of business examples, including the iconic Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose, which is currently taking advantage of the District's toilet replacement program.

    “Sustainability is a huge part of Fairmont Hotels and resorts,” explained Lisa Ares, Director of Operations at the Fairmont. “We did some projections and we’re expecting to save in the ten thousands of dollars per year, but for us it’s much more important the impact that we’re making on the water situation in California.”

    And, it looks like the Fairmont is going to have a huge impact in terms of saving water. The Fairmont told NBC Bay Area that it used to go through 3.6 million gallons of water a year from toilets. When the current replacement job is complete, they'll be using about 64 percent less water.