The District Act requires that the amount of groundwater being pumped be disclosed by well owners to the District in a water production statement.
- District Ordinance No. 87-1 requires that all groundwater production be reported as accurately as possible
- District Resolution 91-53 requires that any well producing over certain volumes must be metered (North County 1AF Municipal and Industrial/ 4AF Commercial Agricultural; South County 2AF Municipal & Industrial/ 20AF Commercial Agricultural)
For those wells not required to be metered, the Table of Average Uses adopted by the Board, must be used to estimate the amount of water being pumped.
- The Agricultural Table of Average Uses estimates the amount of water being pumped by factoring the amount of land and the crops being grown
- The Domestic Table of Average Uses estimates the amount of water being pumped by average use per person in the home and the area of watered landscape
- The Municipal and Industrial Table of Average Uses estimates the amount of water being pumped by type of business and any area of watered landscape
You can choose to install a meter even if it is not required.
Changes were made only to the Agricultural Table of Average Uses
On Sept. 22, 2015, the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s board of directors approved a resolution adopting and amending the table of average uses for agricultural water use.
- The date that the change went into effect was Jan. 1, 2016
- A letter was sent Oct. 22, 2015 to all well owners explaining the changes to the Table of Average Uses for commercial agricultural use and included the new revised Table
- No changes were made to the Domestic or Municipal and Industrial Tables of Average Use
Answers to commonly asked questions
1. Why and how were changes made to the Agricultural Table of Average Uses?
The district had used the same Agricultural Table of Average Uses for decades and had only made minor adjustments to add new crops occasionally. District staff understood that many advances in commercial agricultural water use were being used by the agricultural community and that technological advances in measuring accurately how much water was needed for each crop had accelerated over the last few years. The District requested ERA Economics to analyze and update the Table used for Agricultural use.
Please click here to see their report.
The revised Table of Average Uses now takes into account the appropriate method of irrigation for each crop type. (You no longer report watering method.)
The District submitted the proposed updated Table of Average Uses to the Santa Clara County Farm Bureau which reviewed the updates and considers them reasonable. The District’s Agricultural Advisory Committee also reviewed and approved the Table in February 2015. The updated Table of Uses for Agricultural Uses was approved by the Board and adopted Sept. 22, 2015.
The updated table lists new crops and also accurately reflects the irrigation method to the crop being planted
As can be expected, some of the factors increased, while others decreased
The updated table continues to take into account differences in watering during the rainy/dry seasons and variations in wet and dry years
Please click here to see a list of all crop factors and how they changed
2. Why does my bill go up every year when my usage stays the same?
Absent changes in usage, the increase will be due to increases in the groundwater production charge, which is the rate per acre foot you pay for water produced. Each year the groundwater production charge is approved by the Board. Well owners are notified by the District of the proposed rate increase via letter at least 45 days in advance of the Board meetings in which the proposed increase would be discussed and considered. This letter gives meeting times for public comment and explains the process to protest the increase should you wish to do so.
If you are growing commercial agricultural crops and your crop factor has gone up, the combined crop factor increase plus annual rate increase likely resulted in a larger than anticipated water bill.
3. I cut my water use considerably due to the drought or other factors, can I reduce the Table of Average Uses factor to reflect this?
No. The Table of Average Uses is an average amount used per year for the designated crop or domestic use. It takes into account dry years and wet years and averages them out. The only way that you can reduce the amount calculated is by farming less area, or reporting less domestic use by reducing people in the home, or watering less landscaping areas. Additionally, you can choose to install a meter and avoid the Table of Average Uses to measure your water use.
4. Who decided to change the crop factors and who approved it?
The crop factors had not been updated for decades. Minor adjustments had been done to add new crops. Many advances had occurred in agricultural water use and were being used by the community. It needed modernizing to reflect best watering practices and modern farming techniques.
Ultimately the Board of Directors approved the change Sept. 22, 2015. Prior to presenting to the Board, District staff submitted the proposed Table of Average Users to the Santa Clara County Farm Bureau which reviewed the updates and considered them reasonable. The Board’s Agricultural Advisory Committee also reviewed and approved the Table in February 2015.
5. What if I do not agree with the new crop factor?
If you do not agree with the Table of Average Uses, then your recourse is to install a meter. It is the most accurate measurement available. If you are a private well owner, you can apply for a rebate.