Troubling new images show how severe the drought is in the South Bay

On Wednesday, Santa Clara Valley Water District released troubling new images of how severe the drought is and the drought’s impact on the reservoir levels for the region.

Water officials said its 10 reservoirs are at historic lows. On average, they’re now at 12.5% of capacity.

At Lexington Reservoir in Los Gatos, visitors are used to seeing much more water.

"I think it's real low about the lowest I’ve seen," said Richard Coplon of Los Gatos.

"Boy I sure hope we get a lot of rain this winter," said Timothy Oliver of Capitola.

"A good rain year, there should be a third more in there," said Jeff Friedman of San Jose.

New photos from the Santa Clara County Valley Water District shows in 2017, the Lexington Reservoir was at 99% capacity and this month, it’s at 23%.

Side-by-side comparisons of all 10 reservoirs in Santa Clara County show a stark difference from four years ago to now. Water officials said the current water supply needed to replenish the region’s groundwater system is dire.

"If we have a bad winter, not a lot of rain, we might have to do some rationing," said Gary Kremen of the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board. "Wells might run dry that have shallow wells."

The county is in extreme drought after historic dry water years. The last season was the driest since 1977. This year’s snowpack melted so fast, there was no runoff for the reservoirs. Other options are costly.

"What we can get, the prices have gone up nearly five times what they were a couple years ago so we are trying to keep folks water rates in check," said Kremen. "Everyone is fighting for the same water."

According to the U.S. drought map, much of the Bay Area and the state is in extreme and exceptional drought.

"I think we need to conserve more water," said Richard Coplon of Los Gatos.

The water district is has implemented a 15% mandatory water use reduction. San Jose Water and many cities are now restricting how many days people can water outdoors.

"The sprinkler system at my apartment seems to come up at all sorts of hours," said Coplon. "Maybe this will give me a little impetus to talk to the property management company."

The water district has seen a big increase in reports of wasting water and demand for its landscaping rebate program. The district is planning to offer more incentives since every drop counts right now.

Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Azenith at and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or