In a review of year-over-year water consumption data, local residents may believe that they deserve a pat on the back.
Compared with 2013, water use per capita dropped in Los Altos and Mountain View in 2014 by 39.8 percent and 21.9 percent, respectively, according to the State Water Resources Control Board. Improvement aside, conservation is still in order.
With only two major storms this winter, a fourth year of drought conditions looks likely in California. The winter months of November through March normally deliver 75 percent of all rainfall for the year. Even with the storm system last weekend, the Mtn. View Corp Yard registers 13.31 inches of rainfall season-to-date (November through March), less than Los Altos’ 15.71 inches of average annual rainfall.
The deficit in groundwater and reservoir reserves is so great that even a succession of vigorous storms in the spring may not bring precipitation to normal averages. A pivotal winter snowpack measurement in the mountains east of Sacramento Jan. 29 revealed that water content remained at 33 percent of normal for this time of year. Local water districts – including the Purissima Hills Water District, which serves residents of Los Altos Hills – rely almost exclusively on water from melting snow in the Sierra, making the latest snowpack measurements potentially problematic.
Even with regulations that restrict outdoor irrigation and potable water use to two days per week in August and impose fines of up to $500 on noncompliant homeowners, the Purissima Hills district may urge customers to take even greater conservation steps.
Measures in store
As the drought continues, residents can expect increased conservation outreach from local water districts.
Santa Clara Valley Water District officials reported that the district would maintain its water-reduction policies through June. The district plans to continue offering residential and commercial rebates for a variety of water-saving efforts, including installation of greywater laundry-to-landscape systems and high-efficiency toilets and clothes washers, upgrades to irrigation hardware and landscape conversions.
In addition, several public outreach campaigns are underway. Through its “A Drop in the Bucket” campaign, the Santa Clara Valley Water District is distributing thousands of free 3.5-gallon buckets to encourage residents to reuse their shower water for flushing toilets or watering gardens.
For more information on the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s conservation efforts, visit valleywater.org/programs/waterconservation.aspx.Ellie Van Houtte?Town Crier
Strong winds downed a powerline on First Street in Los Altos last week. Despite the heavy rains, local water districts continue to prepare for a fourth year of drought.
Water conservation events
• “Innovations in Water Conservation,” 7-9 p.m. March 12 at Los Altos Hills Town Hall, 26379 W. Fremont Road. Garth Hall, deputy operating officer with the Santa Clara Valley Water District, and Forrest Linebarger, CEO of Inhabiture, are scheduled to discuss home and business innovations for curbing water use.
• “How to Create Your Own Water-Wise Home Landscape,” 7-9 p.m. March 23 in the Program Room of the Los Altos main library, 13 S. San Antonio Road. Greywater Action co-founder Laura Allen is slated to offer information on plumbing alterations and landscape modifications, including how a greywater system could save users an average of 15,000 gallons of water annually.
For more information on both events, visit valleywater.org/programs/events_and_workshops.aspx.