City leaders, volunteers take action to combat drought conditions, Mayor proposes city-wide conservation restrictions, San Jose introduces new Scorecard to measure energy and water use for residents
SAN JOSÉ, CA – Mayor Sam Liccardo was joined by Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Agency Secretary, Josh Fryday, California Volunteers Chief Service Officer, Magdalena Carrasco, San José City Councilmember (D5), John Tang Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Government Relations, San Jose Water Company, from San José Conservation Corps, city staff, and San José Resilience Corps to make a renewed call on Californians to conserve water in the midst of yet another period of drought conditions in the state. Mayor Liccardo also announced a proposal to shift to the City’s approach to water conservation guidelines consistent with San Jose Water Company conservation measures through a Water Shortage Declaration of 15%, setting an enforceable 2-day week watering limit. If passed, odd-numbered addresses will be able to water Monday and Wednesday; and even-numbered addresses will be able to water Tuesday and Thursday. City staff is also working on revisions to the City’s existing Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (WELO) requiring new developments to only plant drought-tolerant landscape. They are anticipating a council recommendation in the early Spring.
“Worsening air quality, wildfires, and dire conditions for Californians require all of us to make necessary sacrifices to reduce our water use,” said San José Mayor Sam Liccardo. “Every small decision we make will bolster our ability to keep our state resilient in the face of climate change.”
State and city leaders joined San José’s Resilience Corps, volunteers and city staff at Overfelt Park in Alum Rock to plant native, drought-resistant flora on the grounds of the Chinese Community Garden. The addition of plants native to the area translates to a less intensive level of water use and, in turn, savings for San José residents. According to the United States Drought Monitor,100% of Santa Clara County is in extreme drought where water is inadequate for agriculture, wildlife, and urban needs and reservoir capacity is extremely low.
“Make no mistake, the worsening drought threatens water supplies in our communities,” said Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Secretary. “The good news is that each of us can help conserve precious water supplies. Bay Area residents led the way during the last drought reducing water use, and we need this leadership once again.”
San Jose City Council adopted Climate Smart San José in February 2018 which outlines steps and key metrics to help the City reduce not only its carbon, but also its water footprint. Climate Smart San José targets a 6.5% reduction in GHG emissions every year for the next 3 decades, and a 34% reduction in total water consumption by 2040. So far, San José has reduced GHG emissions by about 5% (based on 2017 and 2019 data from the most recent citywide GHG inventory).
One way the City is meeting its goals is through the Building Performance Ordinance that requires energy and water benchmarking and efficiency measures for commercial and multifamily buildings 20,000 square feet and larger. This year San José will introduce a new feature: the BPO Energy & Water Scorecard which will show summary statistics for a property’s energy and water usage, using data from its most recently submitted benchmarking report, and compares the property’s use to other similar property types in San José that are covered by the ordinance. The Scorecard also includes information on available rebates and incentives that could save building owners money on water or energy efficiency upgrades. Water conservation has never been more needed than this autumn season when ensuring buildings are efficient during this water shortage emergency is one of the most critical, immediate steps San José can take to guarantee its drought resiliency.
“It is more critical than ever that Californians work together to conserve water,” said California Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday. “Everyone can be a part of the solution. What you do in and around your home including your water uses, what you plant, and irrigation systems you install can make all the difference in making water conservation a California lifestyle.”
On July 8, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom extended his previous drought proclamation to include Santa Clara County and on, September 23, signed legislation authorizing more than $15 billion in state funding for climate resilience which includes $5.2 billion over three years to support immediate drought response and long-term water resilience. Valley Water, San José’s wholesale water provider, remains committed to providing safe, clean water to all residents in Santa Clara County and are taking additional measures to protect our water supplies and conserve this precious resource.
Following Governor Newsom’s call to Californians to reduce water use by 15%, San José Municipal Water customers demonstrated their continued commitment to conservation by reducing water use in August 2021 by 28 percent compared to August 2013, before the prior drought. With today’s event, state and local leaders renewed the call to residents to ensure all uses of water in and around the home are as efficient as possible. Water-efficiency tips and the complete list of water use rules in effect at all times are available at: www.sjenvironment.org/waterefficiency.
Locally, San José Water Company is taking steps both customer-side with increased education on home water conservation as well as internally with a robust water main replacement program with a $100M budget for pipe construction and tank improvements, efficient response to leaks through the deployment of acoustic sensors, a water main flushing truck that recycles water, and a plan to deploy smart water meters throughout the local service area.
Councilmember Magdalena Carassco, District 5
“These native, drought-resilient plants that were planted today so accurately reflect our East San José community. A community that on a daily basis battles the ramifications of a metaphorical drought of resources and investment. A community that showed resilience through an incredibly devastating pandemic. A community that belongs; a community that is native to this space.”
John Tang, San José Water Company, VP of Regulatory Affairs and Government Relations
“SJW has maintained a long tradition of promoting conservation and this effort is now more critical than ever before to a sustainable water future. We are committed to helping customers make smarter choices through our conservation information, water check-ups, and GardenSoft website.”
Kerrie Romanow, City of San José Sustainability Officer and Director of the Environmental Services Department
“Our residents have stepped up as they continue to conserve water; however, we still have more to do. One significant way to save water is to minimize outdoor irrigation since it takes up about half of the average water bill. Together, we can save water and increase water supply to continue our quality of life.”
Jon Cicirelli, Director of San José Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services
“We’re doing what’s right to maintain healthy parks for a healthy environment and community. With our guiding principles in stewardship and nature, our dedicated park maintenance and operations staff keep our parks safe, healthy, and enjoyable through managing and conserving water thoughtfully, investing in smart irrigation infrastructure, and focusing on native plants.”
The press conference can be watched here. Please also visit www.saveourwater.com.
About the City of San José
With more than one million residents, San José comprises the 10th largest city in the United States, and one of its most diverse cities. San José’s transformation into a global innovation center in the heart of Silicon Valley has resulted in the world’s greatest concentration of technology talent and development.