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Winter storms, record Sierra snowpack boost Santa Clara County’s water supply

April 04, 2023
DWR staff take the April snow survey

This winter’s parade of storms filled reservoirs across Santa Clara County and delivered one of the largest Sierra Nevada snowpacks on record. The result: the county’s water supply significantly improved and much of California was pulled out of drought.

On April 3, the California Dept. of Water Resources announced this winter’s snowpack in the Sierra Nevada was among the highest since the 1950s. Snowmelt and rain from the Sierra Nevada are typically the source of about half of Santa Clara County’s water supply, known as imported water.

Valley Water receives imported water through contracts with the State Water Project and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Recently, the California Dept. of Water Resources announced Valley Water will receive 75% of its contract amount through the State Water Project. Regarding our allocations through the Central Valley Project, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Valley Water will receive 100% of its contract amount for municipal and industrial use and 80% of the agricultural allocation. These allocations amount to approximately 220,000 acre-feet of supply.

Based on this improved water supply outlook, Valley Water staff plans to bring recommendations from the Water Conservation and Demand Management Committee to the Board of Directors on April 11 related to the existing water conservation mandates for Santa Clara County.

“Rain or shine, water conservation should be a way of life,” Valley Water Board Chair John L. Varela said. “Thank you to all the residents, businesses and farmers who took actions to reduce water use during the past few years. Please continue to say yes to saving water and making a difference in your community.”

The Valley Water Board of Directors took several actions during the drought to ensure Santa Clara County continued to have a reliable water supply. Following the water shortage emergency condition declaration, the Board of Directors in May 2022 adopted a program to enforce restrictions on outdoor water use by residents and businesses. In September of 2022, the Board voted to enforce the State of California’s ban against watering decorative lawns on commercial, industrial, and institutional properties.

While we welcome wet winters, we know that our climate is only getting hotter and drier. To take advantage of Valley Water’s robust conservation programs, visit

Photo caption: Employees of the California Dept. of Water Resources conduct the fourth media snow survey of the 2023 season at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The survey is held approximately 90 miles east of Sacramento off U.S. Highway 50 in El Dorado County. Photo taken April 3, 2023. Kenneth James / California Department of Water Resources

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.