Mountain View council declares “Stage 1” water shortage emergency

STORY BY NAINA SRIVASTAVA, PHOTO BY ARYA NASIKKAR

The Mountain View City Council unanimously declared a Stage 1 water shortage emergency at Tuesday’s council meeting, a move that builds on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s July declaration of a drought emergency.

The city’s water shortage plan consists of four “Stages of Action,” which demand reductions of 10%, 25%, 40% and more than 40%, chronologically. These conservation quotas are tracked at a system level as opposed to being enforced on the individual level.

Stage 1, which is the first level of the plan, focuses on increasing public outreach for conservation and water waste. An outreach plan is soon to be implemented as staff work with Valley Water, Bay Area Water Supply & Conservation Agency, and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

“I think that this is a very necessary step and it’s something that I’m strongly supporting,” said councilmember Sally Leiber at Tuesday’s meeting. “I’ve actually been contacted by a number of constituents who have asked why this step wasn’t already being taken … our community in Mountain View is very conscious and I think this will be a very helpful step in increasing that behavior.”

According to Water Resources Manager Elizabeth Flegel, the majority of Mountain View’s water usage is allocated to residential uses and large landscape irrigation.

“What we’re asking customers to do right now is to reduce irrigation,”  Flegel said. “We’ve had a wet couple of weeks, [so] people have turned off irrigation, but if that doesn’t continue, we encourage people to be mindful of their irrigation.”

The city website lists conservation programs that allow citizens to measure the water usage of their appliances and ways that they can conserve, including rebates and water audits.

If the response to the Stage 1 shortage is inadequate or higher levels of conservation are required, the shortage will progress to Stage 2 and residents can expect restrictions and prohibitions on several non-essential water uses: irrigation would be restricted to certain times and days, and washing paved surfaces and vehicles as well as filling decorative fountains would be prohibited, among other measures. 

“Staff will continue to monitor conservation savings and precipitation levels this winter as well as possible actions taken by the state and the city’s wholesale water suppliers to determine if additional action becomes necessary,” Flegel said.

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