California on the brink of statewide water restrictions due to drought

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SAN FRANCISCO — In the midst of an unrelenting drought, Californians could be on the brink of the harshest water restrictions the state has ever seen.

Governor Gavin Newsom warned Monday that statewide water cuts could be on the way if residents don’t reduce their use.

Some local agencies are getting a head start. Santa Clara Valley Water District CEO Rick Callender warned that the drought has reached a “crisis” level for the state.

What we are asking is for everyone to do their best to help us achieve 15%. We’re all in this together,” said Callender. “We know some folks have done much more than others, but we know some still have a long way to go

Valley Water will vote Tuesday on its first-ever program to fine repeat offenders who violate outdoor water use restrictions. Officials say the drought has caused compounding issues locally.

“When water becomes more scarce and were trying to buy emergency water on the open market, we’re seeing prices that are just going up and up and up just to purchase water,” Callender explained. “With Anderson Reservoir being totally down and totally empty, it is absolutely critical that we have to purchase emergency water on the open market.”

Newsom has already called on Californians to cut back on water use on their own — by 15 percent. But some experts say its not enough.

“In order for us to make sure that we don’t go into the exceptional drought like what happened in 2014 we really need to have some strong restrictions in place and cooperation from everyone to make sure that we come out of this drought,” said Dr. Indu Jeyachandran, a civil and environmental engineering professor at San Jose State.

Enforcement remains a key issue. Valley Water has already called on the governor for more funding to make it happen.

“It’s gonna take a lot of effort from the water agencies side and also from its also possible to enforce it on a statewide level,” Jeyachandran said.

Newsom plans to meet with water agencies again in the next couple of months, though it isnt clear when restrictions could go into effect.

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