Local News Matters weekly newsletter

Start your week with a little inspiration. Sign up for our informative, community-based newsletter, delivered on Mondays with news about the Bay Area.

The city of San Jose has begun limiting outdoor irrigation to two days a week as part of an effort to reduce water use by 15 percent amid the ongoing drought.

The restriction passed by the City Council last week requires all residents and businesses to comply, regardless of which water retailer serves them.

It is a policy that has already been implemented by other cities in Santa Clara County and by Santa Clara Valley Water earlier this year.

Residents with odd-numbered addresses and those without an address are allowed to water on Mondays and Thursdays. Those with even-numbered addresses can water on Tuesdays and Fridays.

This means outdoor irrigation in San Jose is not allowed on weekends or on Wednesdays.

Outdoor irrigation is also being restricted by time of day. It can only occur before 10 a.m. or after 8 p.m. This is because watering in the cooler hours reduces evaporation and allows lawns and plants to absorb more moisture.

Sprinklers may also not be operated for more than 15 minutes per station per day; no excess water runoff is allowed; and vehicles cannot be cleaned with a hose unless it has a positive shut-off nozzle.

Those with leaking or broken water pipes, irrigation systems or faucets are also obligated to have repairs initiated within five days or as soon as practical.

The fight for 15 percent

“Cutting back outdoor irrigation is a simple and effective way to reduce potable water use and ensure an adequate supply of safe and clean drinking water,” said Kerrie Romanow, director of the San Jose Environmental Services Department.

She said by limiting outdoor irrigation, the city is likely to reach the 15 percent water conservation target. However, the city may consider implementing further measures if needed.

There are some exceptions to the new irrigation rules. This includes maintenance of public parks, playing fields, day care centers, golf course greens, and school grounds.

“The San Jose community came together during the last drought and reduced our water consumption by more than 30 percent, and I know we’ll rise to the occasion again.”

Kerrie Romanow, San Jose Environmental Services Department

Irrigation restrictions also don’t apply to fire protection, soil erosion control, plants and trees grown for consumption, nursery and garden center plants for sale, and environmental mitigation projects.

Those who are watering their lawns or plants with a hand-held hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle or with a drip-irrigation system are not subject to the restrictions.

“The San Jose community came together during the last drought and reduced our water consumption by more than 30 percent, and I know we’ll rise to the occasion again,” Romanow said.

The city said it will take an education-first approach when it comes to enforcing the mandate. Those who are reported or found to be violating the mandate will be given information to help them comply. However, in “rare cases” in which outreach does not resolve the issue, the city will issue citations of up to $500, according to city documents.

The city is encouraging residents to report irrigation violations by calling Valley Water’s hotline at 408-630-2000, emailing or visiting the Access Valley Water online portal.

The city offers more information on water conservation rules and tips on its website.