Drought" San Luis Reservoir. Photo courtesy of Shawn Novack.

This Column was contributed by Shawn Novack, water conservation program manager with the Water Resources Association San Benito County, San Benito County Water District. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors. BenitoLink invites all community members to share their ideas and opinions. By registering as a BenitoLink user in the top right corner of our home page and agreeing to follow our Terms of Use, you can write counter opinions or share your insights on current issues.


Local water agencies implemented Stage 1-Water Conservation Measures in May 2021 after Governor Newsom expanded his April drought emergency proclamation. In total, 41 counties were under a drought state of emergency, representing 30% of the state’s population. The expanded drought emergency proclamation added San Benito County. The water conservation measures that were implemented call for a voluntary 15% reduction in water use compared to pre-drought usage.

In October 2021 Governor Newsom declared a drought emergency for the entire state of California.

Last summer cutbacks on water use were quite good locally, but since the start of 2022, not so much. January and February were extremely dry with almost no rainfall and the Sierra’s saw very little snow. 2022 marks the third year of drought.

The federal Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the Central Valley Project that delivers imported water to our county for agriculture, residents and businesses, announced a zero-water allocation for agricultural customers and 25% allotment for municipal water customers (City of Hollister and Sunnyslope County Water District). In addition to supplying water to customers, the imported water helps keep our groundwater basin in balance.

According to California’s Water Resources Control Board, water conservation across the state amounted to a 7.5% water use reduction compared to a year ago. That’s not enough!

In most years, aquifers recharge as rainfall and streamflow seep into unpaved ground. But during drought the water table—the depth at which water is found below the surface—drops as water is pumped from the ground faster than it can recharge.

Our groundwater basin still has some resiliency, so it’s not that we’re going to run out of water right away. But we must think in terms of long-term drought.

Since no one knows when this drought will end, we need to stretch our water supply as much as possible. Water conservation is something every resident in San Benito County can do.

The peak irrigation season is about to start. All water agencies urge their customers to have their irrigation system inspected for free by the Water Resources Association of San Benito County (WRASBC). A technician can assess your irrigation system to see if it is working properly, make adjustments (if needed), set your irrigation controller and make sure water is not running off your landscapes onto streets or sidewalks.

Call and schedule your appointment today at (831) 637-4378

To view the Voluntary Water Conservation Measures, go to: www.wrasbc.org