Drought Update

Drought Updates Archive

The list below is a running archive of previously issued SJW drought-related announcements. 

October 13, 2021

SJW will soon take the first step to implement its Mandatory Conservation Plan as a response to the extreme drought facing our community.

On Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, SJW will file Advice Letter 569 requesting the CPUC’s authorization to activate Schedule 14.1 of our Water Shortage Contingency Plan.  Our request includes the activation of allocations and drought surcharges program effective November 15, 2021.

A public hearing will be held on Thursday, October 28, 2021 at 3 PM. You can register for the webinar to learn more. Our public notice is available in English and Spanish. For those without internet access, please call US: +1 669 219 2599. Webinar ID: 980 3990 0972. 

SJW’s Mandatory Conservation Plan recognizes the efforts of customers who have and continue to conserve while encouraging others to do their part.  It sets a minimum monthly allocation where drought surcharges would not apply.  Customers whose usage is above this amount will need to reduce their usage by 15% based on what they used in 2019.  Since most of the conservation focus is on outdoor watering, our dedicated landscape customers will also be required to reduce their usage by 15% to avoid drought surcharges.

The water supply challenges seem to be occurring with more frequency and severity over the last 20 years.  The last drought that ended in 2017 was described as historic. Today, this drought is described as historic.  When the same word is used too often, it no longer has quite the same impact.  Perhaps we need to consider this the “new normal” as we look to the future.

The water supply outlook is somewhat grim.  Reservoirs throughout the state are at historic lows for this time of year.  La Nina conditions, which usually portend lower than average precipitation, are forming in the Pacific Ocean.  According to the United States Geological Service, California would need 140 percent of average precipitation this coming season just to receive the average runoff from the snow and rainfall.  Unfortunately, there are not many years where we get this kind of volume.  The reality is that additional conservation will be required in 2022 if Mother Nature does not provide this coming fall and winter.

August 31, 2021

What is a Super Saver?

A Super Saver is defined as someone who already uses less than 5 units of water per month. These people do not need to reduce their water consumption by 15%. We thank them and greatly appreciate their efforts.

San Jose Water’s updated Water Contingency Plan considers “Super Savers” and has an allocation floor – the minimum amount of water (in CCF) that any customer will receive.

The Goal is to NOT penalize Super Savers, but to support them. San Jose Water realizes that these customers can’t cut back 15% when they are using for example, only 2 CCF of water per month.



What is the latest update of the Water Contingency Plan?

Our updated filing for Schedule 14.1 takes this into account. Our proposed plan will be reviewed by the CPUC for approval. Approval of the plan does not mean the plan goes into effect. Before the plan is implemented, a public hearing will be held and the CPUC must approve of the plan.

This plan recognizes the efforts of those customers who have and continue to conserve while encouraging others to do the same. The proposed updates set a minimum consumption number at which drought surcharges would not apply. Residential customers whose consumption falls below this monthly drought allocation will not be subject to drought surcharges.

Our proposed plan also includes allocations that are based on a customer’s personal past usage in 2019. Valley Water determined 2019 for comparison due to the fact that it was the last year with normal rainfall. Unlike our plan from a few years ago, there is no one allocation for all residential customers. Customers using above the minimum drought allocations will have an allocation based on 15% of their 2019 usage.

See table below for minimum drought allocation amount:

Minimum Drought Allocations* - 2019 Base Year


2019 Average Monthly

Residential Usage (CCF)

15% Reduction

Minimum Monthly 

Drought Allocations (CCF)

January                     10                     9
February                       7                     6
March                      7                     6
April                      7                     6
May                      9                     8
June                    10                     9
July                    13                    11
August                    13                    11
September                    15                    13
October                    13                    11
November                    14                    12
December                    11                      9

*Please note that the minimum allocations above are monthly, however, residential customers will have bi-monthly allocations.

August 5, 2021

Water Contingency Plan Update

Santa Clara County is facing an extreme drought emergency. If or when a water contingency plan needs to be in place, we have to be ready! It can be a long approval process and SJW has been preparing for all possible scenarios so we can meet the water needs of our community

The details of the plan have to be on file with the California Public Utilities Commission. Thus, there are two steps to the process:

  1. File an updated Schedule 14.1 with the CPUC.
  2. Implement the updated Schedule 14.1 when and if it is appropriate and approved by the CPUC.

We are submitting Schedule 14.1 updates to the CPUC on August 5th. This filing does not mean there have been any changes to the customers’ billing procedures. Water use restrictions are in place. However, there are no allocations or drought surcharges at this time.

A copy of the Water Contingency Plan FAQs is available for your review.

June 23, 2021

San Jose Water is encouraging its 230,000 customers to begin conserving water immediately in response to the drought emergency declared by Valley Water, its water wholesaler, which provides approximately 90% of the water supply for SJW customers. All residential, business and commercial customers are asked to cut water usage by 15% from 2019 levels.

At this time, there will not be any customer drought surcharges (penalties) for excess water use, however, we are asking all of our customers to comply. The Company is committed to helping customers with their conservation efforts and providing every opportunity to achieve the targeted usage reduction.

SJW will continue to monitor water usage. If the desired level of conservation is not achieved by August 31, 2021, the Company may need to adjust its response. This could include the imposition of drought surcharges if required by the California Public Utilities Commission or other government agencies.

Under its updated Rule 14.1 Water Shortage Contingency Plan, SJW is aligning this plan with its 2020 Urban Water Management Plan, and activating Stage 3 of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan.  Mandatory water use restrictions under this plan focus on outdoor water use, which accounts for half of the average household’s total use. A complete list of rules can be found at

Complete press release here

June 18, 2021

After two critically dry years, on June 9, 2021, Valley Water, the County’s water supply agency and wholesaler to SJW and other water utilities, declared a drought emergency and established a 15% mandatory conservation based on 2019 usage. 

SJW is following Valley Water’s recommendation and asking all customers to conserve 15% of 2019 usage.  We have filed Advice Letter 563 with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to activate Stage 3 of our Water Shortage Contingency Plan. 

At this time, SJW is not including drought surcharges (penalties) as part of response. We are committed to helping customers with their conservation efforts and want to give them every opportunity to be successful.

We will continue to monitor our customers’ response. However, if the desired level of conservation is not achieved by August 31, 2021, we will adjust our response. This could include the imposition of drought surcharges, if authorized by the CPUC.

June 16, 2021

Extreme Drought 101: Ways to Cut Back on Your Water Use

As announced by Valley Water on June 9, 2021,  our community is experiencing an extreme drought emergency. We are asking all of our customers to do your best conserving water so we can meet the 15% reduction (from 2019 levels) goal. Because outdoor watering tends to be the easiest way to cut back and conserve, we’ve put together some tips to help you reduce water use.

  1. Limits on Watering Days: Watering or irrigating of lawns, landscape or other vegetated areas should only happen 2-3 days a week, not every day. Schedule watering for evenings or early mornings (even the middle of the night works!).
  2. Limits on Filling Decorative Water Features: For decorative fountains and/or ornamental lakes and ponds, do not refill more than one foot, or what is needed to sustain aquatic life.
  3. Limits on Washing Vehicles: Consider not washing your car at home, rather at a commercial car washing facility that utilizes recycled water or a re-circulating water system to capture or reuse water.
  4. Limits on washing sidewalks or structures: Refrain from washing the side of your home, sidewalks, walkways, driveways, patios and other hard-surfaced, non-porous areas.
  5. Watch for excessive runoff: Make sure your sprinklers are working properly and not watering the street vs. your lawn or greenery.
  6. Visually check your sprinklers: Twice a month, look for broken sprinkler heads and other possible sources of water waste.

Conservation is a California way of life. We can all tackle the environmental impact together. More information to come as we determine our drought plan and have it approved by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Review our FAQs to learn more about the drought. 

June 9, 2021

On June 9, 2021, Valley Water announced mandatory water restrictions affecting Santa Clara County.

Valley Water is asking for a 15% reduction from 2019 levels. Santa Clara County will most likely declare a drought emergency based on Valley Water’s announcement.

What does this mean for our customers?

We are working on a plan to meet customers’ needs in terms of drought requirements and will share this information as soon as possible. Please note that the California Public Utilities Commission must approve any mandatory conservation program before it goes into effect.

Steps SJW currently takes to conserve water:

In addition, SJW has several ways to help with conservation, including complimentary water efficiency visits, water-wise gardening info and conservation tips.

Andy Gere, SJW President and Chief Operating Officer, says: “Our customers have always responded to calls for water conservation with a sustained and concerted effort. It’s a strong partnership and SJW is ready to help as we face another drought.”