PHWD Declares Water Shortage Emergency

Purissima Hills Water District Declares Water Shortage Emergency

Certain mandatory water restrictions are now in effect for Purissima Hills Water District (PHWD) in Los Altos Hills following PHWD’s declaration of a water shortage emergency.

PHWD’s board unanimously voted on a new resolution Wednesday, December 8, declaring a water shortage emergency and adopting new water use restrictions, aimed at reducing water usage area by 32%.

According to Steve Jordan, PHWD Board President, “PHWD is supplied 100% by San Francisco Public Utility System Regional Water System; record low precipitation in the Hetch Hetchy Watershed over the last two years has led the State Water Board to reduce the water SFPUC can obtain from the system. On November 23, 2021, the SFPUC declared a Water Shortage Emergency calling for a systemwide reduction in water usage, including a 32% water use reduction from Fiscal Year 2019-2020 baseline for the District. PHWD needs to conserve 32% because our customers have such high outdoor use. Reducing outdoor use for landscaping is the first place the Regional Water System needs to achieve savings so that water can be preserved for human health and safety. PHWD customers can achieve significant savings by reducing outdoor watering, especially for lawns.”

Effective immediately:

  • Outdoor watering (excluding drip irrigation) with potable water is restricted to two days a week, no more than 20 minutes a day, and only after 8:00 p.m. and before 10:00 a.m.
  • All outdoor residential pools must be covered with a suitable pool covering when not in use.
  • The use of potable water for decorative fountains or the filling or topping-off of decorative lakes or ponds is prohibited, with the exception for those decorative fountains, lakes, or ponds which utilize recycled water or other non-potable water.
  • All residential and institutional customers must make best efforts to reduce their potable water use during the emergency by 32% as compared with the customer's usage during eac month of Fiscal Year 2019-2020.
  • All organizations watering horse arenas, recreation fields, or athletic fields with potable water must ensure that irrigated horse arenas or fields are not overwatered or saturated.
  • Use of water to irrigate outdoor landscapes, including turf and ornamental landscapes, during and within 48 hours after measurable rainfall of at least 0.25 inches.

In July, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for a statewide 15% water use reduction, and on November 23, SFPUC called for a 14% water use reduction by its suburban customers. The District saw an increase of about 3% in comparison with Fiscal 2019-2020 water use in July, August, September quarter. When the first rain of the season arrived in October, PHWD alerted its customers to turn off outdoor watering. Our customers have responded well achieving a reduction in October of 25% and in November of 37%! Continued reduction in outdoor watering will be required to achieve the target 32% reduction for the entire fiscal year. Sometime in the first half of 2022, SFPUC will evaluate how well the entire Regional Water System is conserving and may need to institute additional measures. 

District General Manager, Phil Witt, added: “With our large lot sizes, PHWD customers can achieve dramatic savings by efficiently reducing outdoor water. Our customers are encouraged to consider landscaping modifications to achieve the 32% target. PHWD offers a free water management tool called Eye On Water that can be installed on your mobile device. The tool obtains actual meter readings from your water meter, is easy to use, and offers customizable notifications to help you identify both water usage and leaks. Our staff is available to assist customers to sign up for Eye On Water, analyze their usage, identify leaks, and discuss methods to save water. Save 32% and make every drop count!”

Summary of Wasteful Water Use Ordinance (PDF)