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Santa Clara County Residents Use Less Water After Drought Warning

Santa Clara County residents could reduce total water usage by 15% if they cut their lawn irrigation in half.
Flickr / Creative Commons
A sprinkler sprays water on a healthy, green lawn.

It’s been two months since Santa Clara County’s water district declared a water shortage emergency. So far, preliminary data reveals that residents are heeding the warnings.
The county declared a drought emergencyon June 9, mandating that local water retailers cut water use by 15 percent compared to 2019. Data collected through the end of June shows a downward trend of water usage.

In May 2021, Valley Water customers used nine percent more water than they did in 2019. However, by the end of June of this year, residents used the same amount of water they did in June 2019.

To meet the 15 percent reduction, the county regulates irrigation, limiting it to two days a week during specific hours. A Valley Water spokesperson said that if residents cut lawn irrigation in half without cutting showers or using other water saving devices, the county could easily reach its goal.

Another indication that residents are listening to calls for water conservationis their high response to Valley Water’s conservation programs and incentives. The landscape rebate program received 600 applications in July, which tripled since June and is 12 times higher than January. Even water waste complaints from residents increased in July to 200 reports, which is eight times higher than it was in July 2020.

The next drought data update will be in a month and will include water usage information from July.

Ellen (she/her) has a background in oral history, communication studies, and music. For the past two years, she has worked as a homelessness case manager in South Minneapolis. As a social worker, she got to hear compelling stories from her clients every day and is driven to amplify personal narrative as a source of empowerment and change. In her free time she bikes, plays double bass, and does queer stuff.