california drought

Santa Clara Valley Water District Aims to Crack Down on Water Wasters

District’s 10 reservoirs are just 24% full, and customers have increased use instead of conserving in recent years

NBC Universal, Inc.

Santa Clara County water officials are taking drastic measures to conserve, including a proposal to step up enforcement against water wasters, and it could start as soon as the end of May.

In 2019, Santa Clara Valley Water District asked the public to cut back on water usage, but instead of cutting back, it appears some people used more. Using more water during a drought means the county’s largest water provider may be forced to crack down by policing water wasters.

Santa Clara County officials are taking drastic measures to conserve water because some people who have been asked to save water are just not doing it. Cheryl Hurd reports.

“What we’re doing is looking at possibly enforcing restrictions,” said Aaron Baker, chief operating officer of Santa Clara Valley Water District.

Baker said they’re proposing a new ordinance with enforcement restrictions that will be presented to the board soon. The district is looking at hiring a water enforcement team -- or water police.

The district had asked the public to limit watering landscaping to two days a week. Some cities passed an ordinance to allow three. But that gentle ask is not getting the results needed at a time when people really need to conserve. 

“In March of 2022 water use was 30% higher than March of 2019,” said Baker. “We were looking for a 15% reduction but what we ended up with is a 30% increase.”

That’s alarming when all 10 of the district’s reservoirs were just 24% full on Monday.

“What we’ll start with is letters, door hangers, those type of educational types of things, then we’ll ramp up to per occurrence bases of fines,” said Baker. 

Those fines could be up to $500 for people watering too much.

“We're going to have to, or pretty soon we’ll have nothing to drink,” said resident Kirk Rose. Realizing he had to act a while ago, Rose ripped out his lawn and went from watering that once a day to watering his drought-resistant cactus once a month.

“I was saving up so I could buy a fishing boat for my truck, and there's no water to go fishing, so we gotta do something,” Rose said.

That something could mean people will be forced to conserve by the end of the month.

Contact Us