New drought rules effective today could cost Santa Clara County residents up to $10,000

Santa Clara County approved new drought rules effective today that could lead to resident fines ranging from $100 to as much as $10,000 for wasting water. The restrictions are among the strictest of any urban area in California.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District (Valley Water) Board declared a water shortage emergency condition in June of last year, calling for a mandatory 15% reduction in water use compared to 2019. After county residents failed to reduce water usage, the Board called for a maximum of 2 days of irrigation per week beginning in April of this year.

Measures were taken to the next level in May after the Board voted unanimously to create an enforcement program to warn, and then fine property owners who violate outdoor watering rules. The first violation will initiate a notice letter from Valley Water including water reduction tips. A second violation will result in a home visit and doorhanger notice documenting the violation. Upon a third violation, Valley Water has the authority to contact the water retailer to initiate the enforcement process. Fines will escalate from $100 to $500 and could go as high as $10,000. The enforcement program does not apply to sports fields and grass areas that are regularly used for recreational, civic, school and community events.

The decision came as Santa Clara County experiences dwindling water supplies, increasing drought, and rising water usage rates among residents. The County is currently experiencing its driest water year since 1977. The new rules take effect June 1.

Visit to learn about Valley Water’s conservation tips and landscape conservation incentives. To report water waste, email or call 408-630-2000.