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February 18, 2014 > Richard Santos Guest column

Richard Santos Guest column

Santa Clara Valley Water District

Top 10 ways to help save water

While we have begun to see some rain, rainfall levels and the snowpack are expected to remain far below normal. Some of our local reservoirs have dropped close to empty. Statewide water conditions are poor, and we are expecting some significant challenges in meeting our water needs this year.

Late last month, the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors took a number of actions to respond to the worsening water supply outlook. At this time, we are asking all residents to help us reach a water reduction target of 10 percent. With very low reservoir levels and imported water allocations likely to be minimal, make no mistake. It is time to use water as efficiently as you can.

Here are 10 suggestions to help you use water more efficiently.

1. Change your landscaping. Have you considered converting your high water using landscape to a low water using landscape? This is the year to do it. Most residential water use is outdoors. You can save a tremendous amount of water. We offer a cash rebate, for those who qualify, and we just increased the rebate amount. We have an extensive list of qualifying plants that can be used. While they use little water, your new landscape can be vibrant, attractive and full of color.
2. During most winters, your irrigation system should be completely off. If itÕs been dry and minimal irrigation is needed, check sprinkler timers and reduce watering times. Be sure to turn off your irrigation system when itÕs raining.
3. Check your sprinkler heads, valves and drip emitters. They could be broken or aimed incorrectly.
4. Get rid of that old toilet. We offer rebates of up to $125 for premium high-efficiency models and up to $50 for other high-efficiency models.
5. Fix those leaks. To help detect hidden leaks, turn off anything that uses water and see if the low-flow indicator (usually a small triangle) on your water meter is still moving. If it is, there could be a leak somewhere. Toilets leaks are particularly common. It may just need a new flapper, which is cheap and easy to install.
6. Sign up for a free Water-Wise House Call by calling 800-548-1882, or 408-279-7900 for San Jose Water Company customers. A technician will come by at a time convenient for you and help you identify ways you can reduce your water use.
7. Consider a graywater system for your clothes washer. You can divert used washer water to your own garden. We are now offering a $100 rebate for qualifying systems.
8. Only run your washing machine or dishwasher with full loads. Some people are surprised to know that a dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand.
9. Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth and shaving.
10. Make sure you have a low-flow showerhead. We offer them for free. Reducing your shower time by five minutes can save about 10 gallons per shower. Consider putting a bucket in your shower to catch water while itÕs warming up. You can use the water in your yard or to flush a toilet.

For any of our programs, contact the water district first to make sure you qualify. Our helpful water conservation team is ready to assist you at 408-630-2554, or check our website at Find more tips and even a water saving calculator at

As always, I am available for questions or comments as your District 3 representative for the northern areas of Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, Alviso, Milpitas and the North San Jose and Berryessa communities. Feel free to contact me at (408) 234-7707.

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