Water conservation

As drought worsens, Milpitas gets message about conservation

MILPITAS – Despite urgent pleas to keep going during California’s third consecutive drought year, many communities are still not getting the message. Meanwhile, a South Bay community answers the call for conservation.

If one is looking for a community that knows how to shut off the water, a good place to start is Big Bend Drive in Milpitas.

Many homes here have already given up their lawns for good. They have been replaced by hardscapes or drought-tolerant landscaping that requires very little water.

Drought resistant landscaping in a neighborhood in Milpitas during the ongoing drought in California, May 12, 2022.


Meanwhile, homeowners who still have lawns are letting them turn brown.

“We had to cut back,” said Cathy Shaw, who called saving water a way of life on this street. “It was something we had to do.”

The Shaws replaced their lawn with drought-resistant landscaping during one of the last droughts about a decade ago.

It is a drip system that uses less water and requires very little maintenance.

“We’re just doing our part,” Shaw said.

But it all adds up to big savings.

The Valley Water District‘s latest drought report shows Milpitas is using nearly the same amount of water this year as 2019, while other communities are using significantly more: San Jose is up 31%, Morgan Hill up 46% and Purissima Hills, which is Los Altos Hills, is up 119%.

“Obviously this is something we can’t sustain. Our water supplies are dwindling and we need people to conserve water,” said Matt Keller of the Santa Clara Valley Water District. .

How does Milpitas do it? Councilman Anthony Phan said the city has added sheds to water districts for landscaping, diversion of wash water and even cisterns to collect rainwater.

“Milpitas really goes above and beyond. We’re partnering with the Valley Water District and doubling the amount of rebates residents can earn,” Phan told KPIX 5.

Phan also said the city has passed its own water restriction ordinances that only allow watering three days a week. Offenders receive warnings and/or citations.

“It’s something that I think is unique in the region and we hope other towns will follow,” the council member said.

Later this month, Valley Water will consider adding a so-called “water police” that will take enforcement action for water wasters across the region.