South Bay water company proposes drought surcharges

Drought

LOS GATOS, Calif. (KRON) – Water customers in the South Bay could be charged drought fees next month if they go over water usage.

This comes as Santa Clara County is facing extreme drought conditions.

San Jose Water has notified the public that the company wants customers to reduce their usage by 15%.

Right now, everything is voluntary for customers to cut back on water usage but San Jose Water took the first step Friday and filed a request for the state to authorize a plan that will implement drought surcharges.

“We’re asking people to do everything they can because we don’t know what this winter will bring or the next winter,” Liann Walborsky said.  

Liann Walborsky with San Jose Water says the company has notified customers about mandatory water conservation rules, that include fees.

“Let’s say the average home uses 10 units of water a month, so a unit is 748 gallons, under this you’d be able to use 15 percent so it would be 8.5 units a month so basically if you use over your allocation, you will be charged $7.13,” Walborsky said.  

On Friday, the company filed a request for the California Public Utilities Commission to authorize a water shortage contingency plan that will implement drought surcharges.

“We don’t water the lawns as frequently,” customer James Harris said.

San Jose Water customers James and Monique Harris received those messages.

“We have a much smaller vegetable garden in the summer because we knew we wouldn’t be able to water this much, especially tomatoes. They take so much water and we’re also making sure every load of the dishwasher, the washing machine is completely full,” Monique said.

San Jose Water provides drinking water to about one million customers in the South Bay.

50% of the water supply is provided by the Santa Clara Valley Water District — Its wholesale supplier.

The other half comes from the Santa Clara Groundwater Basin and the Santa Cruz mountains.

As the region deals with another extreme drought, customers are asked to cut down on usage.

“Outside irrigation we only ask people to water twice a week for only 15 minutes. In the evening, 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. we ask people not to wash their cars on the driveway, we ask people not to hose off the driveways or the sides of their homes,” Walborsky said. 

The Harris’ say they are not worried about extra water fees.

“The part about them fining us if we use too much, that is not the reason why we’re trying to cut back. We need to do this, especially if we don’t have a lot of rainfall this year,” Monique said.

San Jose Water will hold a public hearing on October 28 and if its proposed rules are approved by the state, they will take effect on November 15.

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January 01 2022 12:00 am