Dry weather makes many nervous

January 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Many of are enjoying this unusual winter-time heat wave, but with no rain in sight this latest stretch of dry weather is of serious concern to those in charge of providing water to the Bay Area.

In downtown San Jose there was nothing but clear blue skies. Some were soaking it all in. It was warm in Oakland too and people certainly took notice.

"It's a beautiful night. I can't believe it. It's like a summer night," said Anthony Jones, an Oakland resident.

The people at East Bay MUD are taking notice too, but for different reasons. Workers here are monitoring reservoir levels and it's not looking good.

"With the dry January, that's not good for us. We need more rain, we need more snow," said Jeff Becerra, a spokesman from East Bay MUD.

Since May the East Bay MUD has implemented a mandatory rationing program in hopes of reducing water use by its customers by 15 percent. However, if the dry weather keeps up, customers could be asked to cut back even more, up to 25 percent.

"Typically January and February are our wettest months, so if we don't get the rain and snow in January and February we're going to be in a situation that's not so good come springtime," said Becerra.

The outlook is so bleak the Santa Clara Valley Water District could soon be recommending mandatory water conservation as well. Not only is the utility dealing with no rain, but it's also getting less imported water as a result of a court's decision to reduce pumping to help save the delta smelt.

"So it's really kind of a double whammy for us, less imported water, and less rainfall. It puts us in a more difficult situation," said Susan Siravo, from the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

A difficult situation for customers too. East Bay MUD is short of its current 15 percent goal by about five percent, which means some customers are being slapped with fines. Some aren't so sure how they would do with more restrictions.

"I don't think I could, but I'll do my best," said Jones.

If this dry spell continues, it looks like more people will have to.