uvas reservoir dam morgan hill
The Uvas Reservoir in Morgan Hill, pictured in December 2021, nearly overflowed in early January. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

The promising end to 2021 that brought weeks of much-needed rain to the drought-stricken county has evaporated during the first two months of 2022.

According to the National Weather Service, South County saw a mere 0.11 inches of liquid relief in January, with the month’s average typically at 4.55 inches of rain.

The summer-like weather that started off February hasn’t helped the situation, as rain has yet to visit in a month that averages a little more than two inches of precipitation.

Don’t expect things to change anytime soon, the National Weather Service advises.

Despite cooler temperatures at the beginning of this week, winds are expected to return to the north as the next warming trend begins, gradually stepping temperatures up leading into the weekend.

Valley Water Board Chair Gary Kremen said the county’s “bad January” has led to one of the driest on records, and February is not looking any better.

In his State of Valley Water address on Feb. 8, Kremen said the county is facing a “triple threat of crises:” drought, pandemic and climate change.

“We’ve got to focus on conservation as a way of life,” he said.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Santa Clara County on Dec. 27 moved into the less-intense “Severe Drought” classification, where it remains as of Feb. 8.

Kremen said the county has started to slide in the wrong direction when it comes to conserving water. In December 2021, water use was up 3% compared to December 2019, following two consecutive months of the county exceeding Valley Water’s goal of 15% reduction.

Groundwater levels in wells along the Santa Clara Subbasin and Llagas Subbasin are a few feet higher when compared to January 2021, according to Valley Water.

Storage across the district’s 10 reservoirs is beginning to drop, according to Valley Water data. District-wide, the reservoirs are at 26% of capacity, a decline of 2% from the beginning of the year.

In South County, the Uvas Reservoir in Morgan Hill, which was inches away from overflowing in January, was at just under 90% of capacity as of Feb. 14. Slightly further north, the Chesbro Reservoir was at 58.7%.Valley Water offers water-saving tips and rebates at watersavings.org.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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