Water conservation

California drought: Water conservation will be mandatory in several South Bay cities after state approves new restrictions

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) – Despite recent rains, California is still in the throes of a drought. Conditions have improved, but hardly. Most of the state is still in a period of exceptional or extreme drought.

RELATED: All California Counties Now Under Declaration of Drought Emergency

In the South Bay, one million people will soon be hit by the most severe water restrictions of any major urban area in California.

On Wednesday evening, the state PUC gave its final approval to San José Water Company plan. The approval by state regulators means the call to reduce water use is no longer voluntary for South Bay residents.

The goal is to reduce and save, as this will now cost customers.

San Jose Water took action after customers missed the 15% reduction target in August.

“That’s when we tabled the option to start charging drought surcharges,” San Jose Water director of communications Liann Walborsky told ABC7 News. “And so, what we got approval on was the activation of our calendar 14.1. “

VIDEO: Valley Water’s rebate program encourages South Bay residents to reduce their water use

This means that the company establishes water budgets, tailored to each client. Customers will need to reduce the amount of water they used by 15% in 2019.

If people abuse it, the company has the option of charging them.

Customers will face surcharges of $ 7.13 for each unit of water above this amount. Each unit measures 100 cubic feet or 748 gallons.

Some we spoke with explained that the fees could ultimately force people to consider drought conditions.

“Personally, I think people haven’t been as serious this year as they have been in years past,” said John Heinlein, a San Jose resident. “But yet, that’s always been a problem. So I think maybe it’s time for us to put in some guidelines to help people do their part.”

RELATED: Santa Clara County’s Water Conservation Efforts Fail to Achieve 15% Reduction

Walborsky of San Jose Water said, “We had a big rainstorm a few weeks ago and it dropped one of our reservoirs from 10% to 12%. It should be much, much higher than that.

Now residents say they are trying to figure out the potential new monetary penalty.

“Everything is increasing,” said Monica Mazzetti, a resident of San Jose. “The cost of living in the Bay Area is insane. It is becoming very difficult for all of us to live.”

“We’re not trying to be, you know, the big bad company here,” Walborsky told ABC7 News. “But at the end of the day, there is a huge – there is just a very serious drought and people have to take it seriously.”

Great Oaks Water Company, which also serves South Bay, introduced similar rules in July.

VIDEO: Wondering how to reduce water consumption by 15%? Here are some useful tips

Walborsky said the San Jose Water Company was just weeks away from implementation. Meanwhile, she said the company is taking the time to set up its billing systems.

“We have no control over Mother Nature,” she added. “We are in control of our own actions. We can take the necessary steps to conserve. “

Walborsky said the company is sending out brochures to customers, with details of the new drought rules and water charges.

San Jose Water website will be updated to reflect the changes on Friday.

Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All rights reserved.