San Jose water company implements new rules

SAN JOSE (BCN) — A number of rules went into effect today for San Jose Water Company customers in an effort to meet state-mandated water conservation guidelines.

Customers have been asked to conserve 30 percent of their 2013 water usage, water company spokesman John Tang said.

Most of the rules focus on outdoor water use, which water company officials said accounts for half of a household’s total water usage, Tang said.

A drought surcharge will be applied for residential customers and those with dedicated landscape accounts, such as large business parks that have their own outdoor watering meter separate from their indoor water use meter, according to Tang.

If a customer is found overusing water, they will be charged $3.56 per excessive unit of water used up to their 2013 levels, water company officials said.

Customers found overusing water will be charged $7.13 for each unit used in excess of their 2013 levels, according to water company officials.

“It can cost up to $10 a unit for a drought surcharge depending on how much you go over,” Tang said.

Multi-family dwellings would be exempt from the drought surcharges, but are still expected to reduce their water usage by 30 percent, he said.

“Multi-family units are fairly efficient already and don’t have a lot of outdoor needs,” Tang said.

Some of new rules include repairing leaks within 72 hours of being notified by the company and not watering within a 48-hour period of at least a quarter-inch of rain, he said.

Watering outdoors is limited to two days a week and is only allowed between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Even-numbered addresses can only water on Tuesdays and Fridays while odd-numbered addresses and places without an address can irrigate on Mondays and Thursdays, according to utility officials.

Watering cannot last for more than 15 minutes a day, unless a property uses drip irrigation, low precipitation sprinkler heads, a hose with a positive shut-off device or a handheld bucket or similar container, water company officials said.

The rules and fines are part of the company’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan approved by the California Public Utilities Commission.

The plan came after Gov. Jerry Brown’s April announcement of a statewide mandatory reduction of water usage by 25 percent from their 2013 rate that would be implemented through the State Water Resources Control Board.

The company is aligning its rules with the Santa Clara Valley Water District after its board of directors called for customers to reduce their water usage by 30 percent in comparison to their 2013 rate.

Exceptions to the rules and excess charges may be made for commercial properties or multi-family dwellings, utility officials said.

To help customers meet the rules, the water company has offered resources such as water audits that provide information on indoor and outdoor water use and rebate programs.

The water company serves customers in Los Gatos, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Campbell and portions of Campbell and San Jose.

More information on the new rules and drought surcharges can be found online at

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