Santa Clara County discusses rationing

August 12, 2008 8:24:36 PM PDT
The message to conserve water is not getting across to Santa Clara County water users. That's the conclusion that the Santa Clara county valley water district board members came up with today. Consumer voluntary conservation has fallen short of the ten percent they requested.

Wednesday they decided to a stronger conservation campaign before deciding that mandatory measures are needed. Tomas roman has more.

The message to conserve water is not getting across to Santa Clara County water users. The Valley Water District Board says its voluntary conservation effort has fallen short of the 10 percent they requested, so now the board is taking a new approach.

"I may have vaguely heard about it, but I have not implemented it, no," said Julie Chovanec, a San Jose resident.

Chovanec isn't sure she was asked to voluntarily cut water use by 10 percent by the Santa Clara County Valley Water District.

"If it comes looking like junk mail, I have to admit I don't sit there and open it and read it," said Chovanec.

Last summer the district put notices in bills, and ran TV and newspaper ads asking for conservation. That as the governor declared a statewide drought. Apparently neither effort had enough of an effect on the district's customers.

After a year of asking for 10 percent voluntary water conservation and only getting four percent, the district realized the message wasn't getting across. So now they decided to send out some new messages with some consequences attached.

Board members decided that their water situation isn't dire yet, but it might be next year. So instead of installing mandatory measures now, they want the public to see the future cost of not conserving.

"We want to design what a mandatory program is and then share it with people so they can see the difference," said Tony Estremera, a board member.

ABC7 asked, if a year of voluntary measures hasn't worked why try the same approach again, if all that's new is telling customers what rationing might cost?

"If we don't see any effort in terms of voluntary conservation, either that means that the message is not getting out there or we've got to go to another level of action," said Rosemary Kamei, the board chair.

Satoro Isaka knows exactly what would help him conserve.

"If we hear about it like gas mileage or gasoline prices, if everyone talks about it, I think lazy people like me would think about it more and then maybe we'll conserve more water," said Isaka, a water customer.

The district has formed a drought contingency task force which will create the new message. Its effect on water use will determine if mandatory measures will be needed next year.


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