The state’s water supply outlook has become dire in recent weeks. The U.S. Drought Monitor classifies all of Santa Clara County in an extreme drought, the state’s largest reservoirs are well below average, and snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada are at historic lows.
Today’s announcement regarding another reduction in the amount of water Valley Water receives from the federal Central Valley Project directly, and adversely, impacts our county’s water supply. Valley Water is deeply concerned about what this means for our communities and our region.
Further challenging our local water supply, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered Anderson Reservoir to be drained for public safety as we strengthen the dam. This means our largest drinking water reservoir will be down – and unable to store drinking water – for the next 10 years as we construct the Anderson Dam Tunnel Project and Seismic Retrofit Project. Valley Water is already taking action by withdrawing previously banked water supplies, purchasing emergency water from our partners, and aggressively increasing conservation measures to help meet demand and support our groundwater basins. But this additional reduction in our water supplies now raises the stakes on these measures and makes them more critical than ever.
These conditions magnify the importance for all of us to take steps to conserve water – every drop saved today is one available for tomorrow. The Board of Directors recently increased our call for a voluntary reduction in water use to 25%, compared to 2013. Our Board will also consider what other measures may need to be taken to increase conservation in the county, especially in light of this additional reduction in our region's water supplies.
The announcement today underscores the severity of the drought, and the time to act is now. Residents and businesses can take advantage of our robust conservation programs by visiting watersavings.org. Many people acted during the last drought to significantly reduce their water use. We thank them for their conservation efforts and ask them to please keep up the good work.
Climate change can mean longer and more severe droughts. Conservation and investments in infrastructure and technology will help ensure there is enough safe, clean water for all our communities.