Mountain View Voice

News - February 28, 2014

Water district calls for big cutbacks

by Nick Veronin

Just hours before the skies above the Peninsula began to dump rain into local creeks and reservoirs this week, the Santa Clara Valley Water District called for greater conservation efforts — with the board voting at its meeting Tuesday night to increase its water reduction target from 10 percent to 20 percent.

According to Marty Grimes, a spokesman for the district, the rainfall is a welcome sight in his parched district, but it isn't enough to make any real inroads toward reversing the current drought conditions.

"We're expecting this storm to produce about 3 to 5 inches of rain in the hills," Grimes told the Voice. "Our estimate is that we need 8 inches or more to start seeing significant runoff into our reservoirs."

Grimes said that the ground needs to become saturated before water will begin to make its way into streams, ponds and lakes. Usually, the ground becomes saturated early on in the fall or winter, and stays relatively wet all season long, he said. However, this year, the weather has remained dry for weeks or months in between short bursts of rain.

Further complicating the local water situation, the whole state is experiencing record low rainfall, Grimes said. This has resulted in serious reductions in allocations from California's federal and state water management agencies.

The California Department of Water Resources recently informed the Santa Clara Valley Water District that it would not be receiving any allocation from the California State Water Project this year. Grimes said. And, while the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation did not cut the district off entirely, they have severely cut back on the amount they will deliver this year — withholding all agriculture allocations and only allowing 50 percent of its historical allocation for municipal and industrial uses.

"It's quite a hit," Grimes said.

At its Feb. 25 meeting, the water district's board approved a resolution recommending that local residents cut back water consumption even more — setting a target of 20 percent less water use than in 2013. The board previously voted for a reduction target of 10 percent on Jan. 28.

While the Santa Clara Valley Water District upped its conservation target from 10 percent to 20 percent, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission's target for 10 percent water reduction remains the same. Mountain View receives the bulk (87 percent) of its water supply from the San Francisco PUC, while the Santa Clara Valley Water District provides most of the remainder.

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