On March 25, the Santa Clara Valley Water District called for a 30% reduction in water use in our county, while restricting watering of lawns and landscaping to two days a week. In 2014 the District called for 20% water conservation, and we consumers reduced water usage by 13%. Would restricting watering landscaping to two days a week be enough to reduce water usage by 30%, and is there data to back substantiate this?
The nearby city of Pleasanton conserved 27% in 2014 after starting their campaign in April. When their imported water was severely cut in 2014, Pleasanton chose to cut water usage by 25%, and not tap the groundwater in their aquifer, which had two years of water. Let’s see what measures Pleasanton took.
- Pleasanton’s website explains water conservation: cite the drought, ask for water conservation, and provide tips to conserve water.
- Pleasanton prohibits water waste and restricts water usage. Avoiding water waste includes the usual measures of repairing leaks, avoiding runoff, and no hose washing of hard surfaces.
- Pleasanton limits outdoor watering to “1 day per week October—March, or 2 days per week April—September”.
- Pleasanton provided free, recycled water. This proved to be a hit, where “residents collected more than 2 million gallons of recycled water from the agency” and hauled it away.
- Pleasanton has a water conservation ordinance with financial consequences. “Customers who didn’t cut their water use not only paid rates that could be three times as much as those paid by the bottom tier of users, but also faced fines as high as $1,000 or, at worst, having their water use restricted.” Tiered rates and fines seemed to be enough — “I’m not sure we ever fined anyone,” said the city manager.
Pleasanton limited watering of landscaping to two days and week, among several conservation measures, while reducing water usage a very impressive 27% while limiting pumping of groundwater. Pleasanton estimated that their aquifer holds two years of water and chose to conserve it. Santa Clara County called for a voluntary reduction of 20%, achieved 13%, and overdrafted 30% of the usable groundwater in our aquifer. How long will Santa Clara County’s groundwater last?
As a nearby, suburban city, Pleasanton demonstrated that a 25% or 30% reduction is achievable with watering landscaping two days a week and other measures. But would limiting irrigation of landscaping to two days a week without all the other measures achieve the 30% reduction requested by Santa Clara County?