Santa Clara Valley Water District issues mandatory water cutbacks

Santa Clara County's largest water provider has declared a water emergency and is implementing mandatory use reductions. The announcement came in a unanimous vote by Valley Water late this afternoon.

At Pacific Hand Car Wash in San Jose, the drought has been top of mind.

"We just want to make sure we handle water properly, make sure we can still get cars washed. It's tough times when the drought is going," says Jason Tang of Pacific Hand Car Wash.

And they're concerned about water restrictions in Santa Clara County. So are residents like Rudy Gastelo.

"What I have started doing is not watering my grass. You know I just grew it out and we have this drought!" says Gastelo, who lives in Gilroy.

Wednesday, Santa Clara County's largest water provider took drastic action.

In a unanimous vote Valley Water declared a water usage emergency.

RELATED: Santa Clara County's largest water provider imposes 15% reduction

Along with that, they're implementing a mandatory 15% use reduction over 2019 levels, 33-percent over 2013 levels.

Officials say their water allocations are low.

And the cost of purchasing outside water is sky high.

Plus they had to drain Anderson Reservoir, their biggest, for a ten year seismic retrofit.

They say this, like a plane crash, is a real emergency.

"There are folks out there that want to wait until the plane is going to almost crash in the ground. And I think this is right but it will be painful because people are going to go well the tap is still working why can't we wait till later," says Gary Kremen, Valley Water Board Member.

The reason, they say, is a real risk of running out of water in late 2022.

Residents are nervous.

"Here we go again with the drought. There is no rain. It's sad and its sucks right now because we need it," says Gastelo.

It remains to be seen what specific rules will be implemented, whether it's limits on lawn watering, pool filling, or washing cars at home.

That of course, might send more people to Pacific Hand Car Wash, which is just fine with them.

"Help as much as we can in making sure we can save water and wash cars at the same time," says Tang.

Valley Water is now calling on Santa Clara County to declare a local emergency, which might help get the area on the state's emergency list.

Valley Water is also beginning a big education campaign to get residents on board.

In a statement released Wednesday evening, Valley Water Board Chair Tony Estremera asked for everyone to conserve.

"A reliable supply of safe, clean water is crucial for public health and the economy. We can’t predict how
long this drought will last. But we know now is the time for action to protect our groundwater basins
and make sure there is enough water for all our communities," Estremera said.