By Jana Kadah, Bay City News Foundation
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CA – Since the Santa Clara County Water District declared a water shortage emergency in June, water use has continued to decline, slowing the rate decrease in groundwater.
At the Santa Clara Valley Water District board meeting on Tuesday, staff said almost all of their 13 water retailers were using about 10% less water than in 2019 for August.
The water district has yet to compile water use data for September, but senior water resources specialist Neeta Bijoor said August figures indicated a downward trend of water use.
Water use has declined due to myriad efforts, Bijoor said.
This includes guidelines from Valley Water and its 11 local jurisdictions for residents and businesses that limit irrigation to certain days and times.
Additionally, Valley Water has provided water efficient devices and water waste reports for residents and small businesses, as well as discounts for those who modify their lawn to be more efficient in drought conditions. .
In September, they received over 200 landscaping rebate program requests, 400 orders for water efficient appliances, and over 200 water wastage reports.
“These are signs that people are taking the drought seriously and are continuing to take action to support reduced water consumption,” Bijoor said.
These efforts, along with imported water supplies, have helped slow the rate of groundwater level decline.
In fact, Bijoor said, while groundwater has continued to decline in some parts of the county, other parts have seen groundwater stabilize or increase.
“However, the expected groundwater storage in 2022 is similar to what was observed in 2014, which continues the risk of subsidence in North County and drying wells especially in South County,” Bijoor continued.
Subsidence occurs when the ground gradually sinks in, as groundwater levels drop dramatically, which can impact infrastructure.
During the state’s last drought of 2012-2016, so much water was pumped out that land collapsed and sank nearly 2 feet each year in the San Joaquin Valley.
Santa Clara County hasn’t seen the same impact, but water officials fear it will happen, especially since the county has already had a report of a dry well.
The well is located in an unincorporated part of South County, in the southwestern Coyote Valley, “near the foothills where well performance is generally less reliable,” according to the most recent report from emergency drought response.
No dry wells were reported in North County.
But the Public Policy Institute of California estimates 2,700 wells could dry up this year, and nearly 1,000 more next year if dry conditions persist, most of which are in the Central Valley.
Valley Water officials said they hope water use will continue to decline and are looking to the state and federal government for help.
The governor’s recent approval of $ 260 billion for the next fiscal year – the largest in the state’s history – allocates billions to combat drought.
About $ 5.2 billion is allocated to programs that support the immediate drought response and $ 3.7 billion is intended to fund climate resilience projects to tackle climate change, according to the response report from Valley Water Drought Emergency.
“Staff are reviewing her for possible grant funding opportunities for valley water projects who also continue to advocate for federal funding for drought relief and bills under consideration.” , Bijoor said.
These bills include the Infrastructure Bill, as it allocates funds for large-scale recycled water storage and projects, such as Valley Water’s recycled and purified water projects; the House Budget Reconciliation Bill, as it allocates additional funds to recycled water projects; and the House-introduced Disaster Supplementary Finance Bill, which includes $ 200 million for relief in drought.
Residents interested in learning more about water conservation or enrolling in one of Valley Water’s programs can visit https://www.valleywater.org for more information.
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