SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Emphasizing the need for conservation to be a way of life, the Santa Clara Valley Water District board voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to declare a water shortage emergency, urging the community to reduce water use by 15%, compared to 2019 levels.
"Being proactive now, today, can help us for next year which can be extraordinarily grim," said Valley Water Board Vice-Chair Gary Kremen.
In order to meet the target, officials say the public should cut back on outdoor irrigation. For example, the water district is asking cities and private water companies to whom it provides water, to impose limits on how often residents can water their lawns, and to enforce other rules to discourage water wasting.
"Climate change is real and it is affecting our water supply," said SJSU environmental studies professor Katherine Cushing. "It's not just about people conserving water in their homes. It's also about agencies thinking strategically about how to amplify the use of non-conventional water sources like recycled water."
So how did we end up with a water shortage?
Last month, the federal government announced it would cut water deliveries to urban areas it serves, which include the water district's allocations from the Central Valley after the Sierra Nevada snowpack came up short. In addition, Anderson Reservoir, the county's largest, has been drained entirely for federally-mandated earthquake repairs to its dam.
"We are in a very serious situation, way worse than last time, especially since half our storage is gone and the amount of water coming into our county is just a trickle," said Kremen.
Wednesday's move could possibly lead to higher water rates with penalties for overuse.
As we head into the summer, Valley Water is also reminding residents about its landscape rebate program, which could help with saving and conserving.