San Jose Water Company unveils plan for mandatory water rationing

SAN JOSE (KGO) -- One million San Jose residents are now under orders to cut back water use by 30 percent or they'll see hefty surcharges on their bills.

The dilemma facing many in San Jose is how to tell if they're on track or not.

Cutting back is far from an exact science. Residents are worried they could see hefty surcharges on their bills for exceeding their allocation when they can't monitor their daily or weekly use.

"Well, I try to shower the same schedule as the water, Tuesday and Friday," said Robbie Robertson, a san Jose Water Company customer.

Robertson was wise to pick up some low-flow shower heads to meet the 30 percent mandatory reduction.

Failure will result in a surcharge on the bill. The problem is, water bills are sent out every other month, making it difficult to monitor progress.

"If folks learn to read their meter and do their conservation tips that we have asked them to do, I think it's very possible for they'll get to that 30 percent number," said John Tang of the San Jose Water Company.

Delgado's water meter is inside a concrete vault where black widow spiders have taken up residence, but it's beyond her to know how to use it to track her usage. She already re-landscaped her yard two years ago, and she's letting some of the plants go to save water. Only one iris bloomed this year. Her Japanese Maple is showing signs of stress.

"I think I bathe like once a week, so maybe now I will have my two-minute shower once every other week and use a wash cloth," said Evelyn Delgado, a San Jose homeowner.

Delgado worries that she'll be penalized by having started water conservation two years ago, which is now her base for the 30 percent cutback.

Down the street, Janice Zajac is adding more drought-tolerant plants and she wonders if that will be enough.

"I don't know. It's complicated. Because if you're just watering willy-nilly, you don't think about it," Zajac said.

The new allocation plan starts June 15 if approved by the state.

To learn how much water your city is required to cut back, click here. For water rebate information from Bay Area water suppliers, click here. And click here for tips on how to conserve water. To learn more about how to report water wasters #WhereYouLive, click here.

For full coverage on the drought, click here.
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