While disappointing, we were not surprised to see a decrease from 15% to 5% in our allocation from the State Water Project, given that California is enduring the driest start to a year on record.
Precipitation totals across much of the state are smashing records for all-time low amounts so far in 2022. Also, the Sierra Nevada snowpack has dramatically decreased since December and currently measures at 55% of average. To begin 2022, San Jose has received less than a tenth of an inch of rain, the lowest amount officially measured.
January and February are typically two of our wettest months but the combined precipitation in 2022 to date is the lowest in California's recorded history. Unless significant precipitation occurs, we are also on track to have the driest first quarter of the year.
Santa Clara County is dependent on imported water, with about half our water supply coming from outside the county. These dry conditions impact our county’s water supply and the amount of imported water we receive.
As we approach the spring and summer months, my fellow board members and I may consider other measures to increase conservation in the county. Valley Water is also taking action to support Santa Clara County’s water supply and groundwater basins by withdrawing previously banked water supplies and aggressively increasing conservation. Emergency water supplies are scarce this year, but Valley Water is making all efforts to secure what is available for our communities.
Our state is entering the third year of drought; we must all do our part to reduce water use and the time to act is now. Our Board established a 15% water use reduction goal for Santa Clara County in June 2021 and since then, through January 2022, residents, businesses, and farmers reduced overall water usage by only 8%.
Thank you to everyone who has taken steps to reduce their water use. Please keep up the excellent work. Every drop saved today is one available for tomorrow.
For those who can do more, Valley Water offers several rebates to help reduce water use. Residents and businesses can take advantage of our robust conservation programs by visiting watersavings.org.
We know that climate change can mean longer and more severe droughts. Conservation and investments in infrastructure and technology will help ensure enough safe, clean water for all our communities. One solution we must embrace is increasing our county’s use of recycled and purified water, a drought-proof and locally-controlled water source.
Photo credit: Mountain peaks are covered with snow near the Phillips Station meadow on March 1, 2022. Photo courtesy of Ken James / California Department of Water Resources.