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Valley Water Board Chair John L. Varela statement on improved Drought conditions in Santa Clara County

March 22, 2023
March 22, 2023 Alamitos pond in Santa Clara County

Photo: Alamitos pond in Santa Clara County, March 22, 2023

For the first time in more than three years, Santa Clara County is no longer in any of the five U.S. Drought Monitor categories. In just a few months’ time, we have moved from being classified as being in an extreme drought to being out of drought.

Record-setting atmospheric rivers this year have boosted reservoir levels locally and statewide, adding to our groundwater recharge and building up historic levels of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.

While the U.S. Drought Monitor status has changed, Valley Water’s conservation efforts continue, as does the State’s, which has not yet lifted its drought emergency.

The Sierra Nevada snowpack is a critical piece of Santa Clara County’s water supply, as half the water used locally originates outside the county and is imported. While construction is happening at Anderson Dam, we will rely even more on this imported water. It’s important to note that while our county is out of drought, some of the areas that provide us with imported water are not.

Next month, Valley Water expects to find out how much imported water we will receive this year. Based on those amounts, we will be able to better assess our water supply for the year. On April 11, staff plans to bring recommendations to our Board of Directors as it relates to the water shortage emergency condition given this improved outlook while staying in compliance with State regulations.

Though Valley Water is optimistic about our improved water supply outlook, with climate change, we know droughts will become more frequent and more severe in the future, and the next drought may be just around the corner. That’s why we encourage everyone in Santa Clara County to make water conservation a way of life.

In addition to promoting conservation, Valley Water is working to diversify its water supply by investing in locally reliable, sustainable and drought-proof supplies such as recycled and purified water, which will help make us more climate resilient.

Please continue to say yes to saving water and making a difference in your community.

Image: March 16, 2023 U.S. Drought Monitor county classifications for the State of California

Valley Water manages an integrated water resources system that includes the supply of clean, safe water, flood protection and stewardship of streams on behalf of Santa Clara County's 2 million residents. The district effectively manages 10 dams and surface water reservoirs, three water treatment plants, an advanced recycled water purification center, a state-of-the-art water quality laboratory, nearly 285 acres of groundwater recharge ponds and more than 294 miles of streams. We provide wholesale water and groundwater management services to local municipalities and private water retailers who deliver drinking water directly to homes and businesses in Santa Clara County.