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Valley Water Board Chair Pro Tem John L. Varela statement on proposed water use reduction enforcement program

May 11, 2022
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Santa Clara County residents are being encouraged to let their lawns go brown
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Following nearly a year of urging residents, businesses and farmers to use 15% less water, our county water use increased dramatically during the first three months this year – the driest on record in California. The lack of rain and snowpack isn’t just alarming, it again underscores the critical need for all of us reduce our water use to ensure we have enough safe, clean drinking water in the future. Because if the drought continues into 2023, we face the very real possibility of wells going dry in the south of our county, and land sinking from empty aquifers, which can rupture pipelines and crack home foundations, roads, and bridges.

To help us achieve our goal, for the first time in our history Valley Water is considering adoption of an enforcement program that could fine those who waste water. We do not take this lightly, but we want everyone to know that we are in a very serious drought emergency, and we must all take immediate action to protect what little water we have. We will consider the staff’s recommendations and vote on the proposed enforcement plan at our board meeting on May 24.

The enforcement program would impose restrictions on outdoor water use by residents and businesses, and includes fines for those who ignore repeated notices of violation. Our proposed enforcement program will complement the existing enforcement programs of our water retailers. You can find your water retailer by visiting the Valley Water website.

The easiest way to reduce water use is by cutting back on outdoor watering, responsible for about 50% of residential water use. We can no longer afford the luxury of watering ornamental lawns more than twice a week. Please know that if the drought emergency worsens and our water supplies continue to dwindle, we may require additional reductions in outdoor watering.

Please consider letting your lawn go brown this summer or replacing it with a drought-resistant landscape. Valley Water offers rebates through our Landscape Rebate Program. Residents and businesses can take advantage of our robust conservation programs by visiting watersavings.org.

My fellow board members and I declared a drought emergency last June and called for more water conservation. To those residents, businesses and farmers who have already taken steps to reduce their water use, thank you and keep up the excellent work.

Let’s say yes to saving water and together we can protect our current and future water supply.


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 277 acres of groundwater recharge ponds and more than 275 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.