San Francisco

Drought Emergency: Santa Clara Valley Water District Customers Falling Short Of Conservation Goals

SANTA CLARA COUNTY (KPIX 5) – In the nearly month and a half since the Santa Clara Valley Water District declared a drought emergency and urged everyone to start saving water, conservation efforts have been somewhat lackluster.

The water district said customers reduced water usage in the month of June 6%, compared to the call to conserve 15%.

“This could be just as bad as COVID in its own way — running out of water. Think about lack of business confidence,” Water District vice chairperson Gary Kremen told KPIX 5. “Think about what happens to folks when they have no water.”

Kremen said the conservation numbers for June are not too alarming because it typically take a few weeks or months for people to alter their behavior and begin to conserve at a significant rate.

Drone video of Lexington Reservoir in Santa Clara County during drought conditions, July 21, 2021. (CBS)

Drone video of Lexington Reservoir in Santa Clara County during drought conditions, July 21, 2021. (CBS)

“Our residents generally tend to respond pretty good. Yes, it’s at 6% right now, but let’s give it a couple months,” he told KPIX 5.

Kremen said the majority of savings will come from reducing landscape watering.

“I’ve decided to let my back lawn die off,” says Alan Arnone. He says he ripped up half of his front lawn during the last drought.

Arnone said he’s conserving water in a myriad of ways but doesn’t always see evidence his neighbors are doing the same.

“I walk every morning — early in the morning — and I see that there’s a lot of overspray onto the sidewalk from sprinklers,” he said.

The water district said there are signs the need to conserve is sinking in. They’ve received more than 800 applications for their landscape rebate program and nearly 500 requests for free water-saving devices such as low-flow shower heads.

Water officials have also received more than 150 reports of people and businesses wasting water.

A spokesperson for the water district said the agency is launching a multimedia education campaign, urging people to conserve.

Kremen said a lot more people will need to answer the call to conserve before the drought is over.

“I think that a lot of people have so much money invested in their lawns and their yards. They put a lot of money into it and really just don’t want to give that up. And so, they just keep watering anyway,” said homeowner Dennis Moore.


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