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Water Waste Rules

June 16, 2023
Say Yes campaign

SAN JOSE – On June 13, 2023, Valley Water's Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution declaring that water conservation must be a way of life in Santa Clara County. The Board also unanimously passed an ordinance with permanent water waste prohibitions to ensure that water as a precious resource is not misused, even during non-drought periods.

Making water conservation a way of life is critical to the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of Santa Clara County. Our region is prone to multi-year droughts and resulting water shortages.

“Our residents and businesses showed a commitment to water conservation by saving more than 10 billion gallons of water during the drought emergency,” Chair John L. Varela said. “Now, we are asking the community to work with us to make water conservation a way of life.”

The ordinance allows Valley Water to respond quickly to future droughts. During periods when Valley Water’s Board has called for mandatory water use reduction, the ordinance provides an enforcement process that includes fines for those who violate outdoor water waste restrictions despite repeated notifications to address the waste. During periods when Valley Water’s Board has not called for mandatory water use reduction, the ordinance provides an enforcement process that includes notifications and education for those reported to have violated water waste restrictions and refers repeated complaints to water retailers for further enforcement action.

As part of the ordinance approved by the Board, the following water-wasting actions are now permanently prohibited in Santa Clara County:

  • Using sprinklers between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
  • Causing runoff while watering any outdoor landscape.
  • Watering outdoors within 48 hours of measurable rainfall.
  • Using leaking plumbing fixtures, sprinklers, or irrigation systems without repairing them after written notification from a retailer or Valley Water.
  • Watering non-functional turf at commercial, industrial, and institutional properties, including common areas of homeowner's associations and multi-family residential properties.
  • Washing cars, except by handwashing, by a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle, or at a car washing facility.
  • Washing building exteriors or mobile homes with a hose without an automatic shut-off nozzle.
  • Washing sidewalks, walkways, driveways, patios, parking lots, or other hard-surfaced, non-porous ground areas except in cases where health and safety are at risk. Power washing of sidewalks or other outdoor surfaces for health and safety reasons is not considered a violation of this provision.

Valley Water’s water waste inspectors respond to reports of water waste and violations of local water use restrictions. Reports of water waste in Santa Clara County can be reported through our webpage at, emailing [email protected], or by calling (408) 630-2000.

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.