Water district reviewing feasibility of one groundwater zone

Water district

Water bills in South County could increase if the Santa Clara
Valley Water District combines its two groundwater zones into one
zone encompassing all of Santa Clara County.
Water bills in South County could increase if the Santa Clara Valley Water District combines its two groundwater zones into one zone encompassing all of Santa Clara County.

North County pays $520 per acre foot while South County pays $275 per acre foot for nonagricultural water use.

North County, which begins in South San Jose and reaches north to the county line, uses three recycled water plants that mostly account for the charge discrepancy from South County that uses no recycled water. The majority of South County’s water use is drawn from the groundwater basin in Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy. Water use is operated on individual plots of land by well owners, about 4,000 of them.

Charges have historically been much lower than the utility infrastructure of the North County where agriculture is rare and water is derived from the three treatment plants. The report suggests treated water could be shared among the zones if combined.

“It would be logical to seriously consider one groundwater charge zone if and when the district’s infrastructure is substantially interconnected such that water resources could be shared across both zones for the benefit of all users in both zones, and/or the level of service provided is equivalent in both zones,” the report says.

The water district staff will present to the board of directors a report on the feasibility of combining the zones at the water board’s Oct. 26 meeting.

The district provides drinking water and flood protection for about 1.8 million county residents and employs about 800 people. Its annual budget for fiscal year 2010-2011 is $315 million.

Check Tuesday’s edition of The Gilroy Dispatch for updates to this story.

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