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Bay Area Water Restrictions Get a Lot More Serious

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As the thirsty state continues to bite and scratch for every last drop of water, new restrictions and states of emergency are rolling out across the Bay Area region in rapid succession. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom last week called on all Californians to voluntarily cut back water usage by 15 percent compared to what they used in 2020. While the reduction may seem modest for the challenges the state faces, it’s worth noting that 2020 home consumption was likely inflated with people locked down during the pandemic. 

Santa Clara is expected to ratify a local extreme drought emergency proclamation at its Tuesday City Council meeting. This means the city is moving into a Stage 2 of the water shortage contingency plan and will get into enforcement territory. Until now, water customers have been largely operating on an honor system. Going forward, Santa Clara residents will only be permitted to water outdoors for a maximum of three days a week on a schedule determined by odd and even street address numbers. 

Fines could come shortly after the city exhausts the more gentle public information campaign approach.   

Water agencies in Alameda and Contra Costa counties’ inland Tri-Valley region — Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore and San Ramon — just matched the governor’s request, expanding on the prior ask of customers to voluntarily reduce usage by 10 percent.   

The rest of Contra Costa County last week issued its “voluntary” 10 percent cut request, crediting the Los Vaqueros Reservoir for keeping the dry, hot inland area out of absolute emergency. However, if the Tri-Valley is any indication, it is possible the county will ask people to push the conservation further in the future. 

The state and individual regions are targeting landscape watering as an area where most households can greatly reduce the flow. In times like these, decorative lawns just don’t need to be sucking up the precious resource. If people insist on outdoor watering, the state challenges residents to do so before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m. 

Restriction guidelines are changing quickly in individual cities and counties, so please check with your local water agency for the most information. We can basically expect most areas to move from voluntary to mandatory restrictions as the heat wave-riddled summer progresses and into early fall.


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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.