Bay Area drought

Valley Water in South Bay to Consider Tighter Restrictions, Enforcement

NBC Universal, Inc.

Water district officials in the South Bay are poised to tighten restrictions on use and to enforce those rules with penalties for violators.

Valley Water, which supplies water to more than 1 million residents in the Santa Clara Valley, on Tuesday will consider a proposal that limits outdoor water use and creates an enforcement team to ensure residents and businesses are staying within the conservation rules.

The water use limits would include outdoor watering just twice a week only after 6 p.m. or before 9 a.m. to limit evaporation. The conservation rules also would penalize runoff as well as any property owner who waters 48 hours after measurable rain.

In addition, the agency, which has been focused on education and warnings for first-time offenders, is considering penalties for repeat or intentional water wasters. Under the latest proposal, Valley Water would be able to fine people $100 per violation up to $10,000.

Because of the ongoing severe drought, Valley Water hasn’t been able to save, and importing water is becoming more difficult.

"Fifty percent of the water we used in Santa Clara County comes from outside the county, and last year we got an allocation of about 5% of our contract amount," said Kirsten Struve, Valley Water's assistant officer. "And now it’s just whatever is necessary for public health and safety."

If passed, the new restrictions would go into effect June 1.

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