Santa Clara Valley Water District starts taking reports of water wasting

SAN JOSE – As the drought situation becomes dire, the Santa Clara Valley Water District is starting to punish people who waste water. Starting Wednesday, water wasters could be fined for ignoring repeated warnings to cut back.

“Yeah, I’m a little concerned right now because I am that neighbor with a green lawn,” said Sarah Rogers, who fessed up to keeping the water flowing freely to enjoy her yard.

“I love my green grass.  I love my lawn.  And the majority of my neighbors, they don’t have that.  They don’t water, so I hope no one rats me out,” Rogers told KPIX 5.

But that’s exactly what could happen.

Valley Water set up a hotline to take reports of water wasting, and the agency says it took in five complaints by noon Wednesday.

Complaints have come in with photo documentation, or a simple email.

One was sent by a jogger who saw water on the sidewalk of a house and peeked over the fence to find a broken sprinkler.

It’s all set up to be neighbor reporting neighbor.

“Valley Water is not conducting any patrolling at this point. We are relying on our community to be vigilant, to step in and help us to identify, and educate people and address that waste,” said Neeta Bijoor, a Santa Clara Valley Water District manager.

First and second complaints will get a letter and a door hanger notice. By the third, a $100 fine kicks in, and it goes up from there.

“We can also provide fines up to $10,000 for extraordinary amounts of waste,” Bijoor told KPIX 5.

Neighbors KPIX 5 spoke to don’t like the idea of turning each other in, at least not as a first step.

The Water District says voluntary cutbacks aren’t working, and the drought situation is dire.

Rogers says the fines have her attention and she is trying to cut back. “I’ll cut back a little bit,” she said.

Due to the drought, customers are now only allowed to water their lawns up to two days a week.

Valley Water customers can report waste through the Access Valley Water app, by calling 408-630-2000 or by emailing [email protected] Additional information about reporting water waste can be found on the agency’s website.

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