Water district hesitates lifting mandatory conservation

May 25, 2010 8:19:37 PM PDT
The Santa Clara Valley Water District was Tuesday expected to lift its mandatory water conservation program, but instead it put off any decision until next month. The 15 percent mandatory effort has been in place since March 2009 and unless the board takes action, it will expire automatically on June 30.

The District says it is thrilled with conservation measures among its 1.8 million customers and wants to make sure lifting the conservation requirement is not premature. It also expressed concerns about how lifting the requirement might affect water rates and is asking the staff for more information about how water companies who get their water from the district might or might not adjust the water rates they pass on to customers. All indications are the conservation mandate will become a voluntary program or lifted altogether.

As of May 1, the local reservoir storage was 108 percent of average to date. The amount of rainfall has effectively ended three years of drought, but board members expressed concern that people may return to old habits if the mandatory message is done away with.

The district spent $1 million in the 2009-2010 budget year getting its conservation message out and regardless of how it proceeds with conservation rules, the board plans to spend another $750,000 in the 2010-2011 budget. The campaign has gotten good results. The goal was 15 percent conservation and the district achieved 17 percent conservation. The board members had high praise for the District's "Save 20 Gallons" campaign which has its own website and advertising effort.


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