SAN JOSE -- The Santa Clara Valley Water District voted Tuesday to hire up to 10 conservation staff members to aid water-saving measures during one of the worst droughts in California's history.
Referred to by some as "water cops" -- though they will not issue tickets or collect fines for the time being -- the new staff members will work in communities throughout Santa Clara County to educate those who are not making every effort possible to reduce their use of water, be it in their gardens or in their homes or businesses. The new hires are expected to cost the district about $500,000.
The vote passed unanimously after a lengthy presentation on several conservation efforts the district is making in addition to the new hires.
The district did not specify when the staff members would begin. A staff presentation made clear their job is to educate residents and answer complaints sent to the district, and that no fines will be imposed unless the California Public Utilities Commission chooses to allow fines. In that case, residents will receive warnings before they are hit with a fine. Only a few cities such as Santa Cruz and Sacramento have resorted to issuing fines.
Staff explaining the proposal told board members that a majority of the workers' jobs will be to respond in person to complaints about property owners wasting water and use an educational approach to help homeowners and businesses understand how their participation in helping to reduce their water usage will help in the countywide conservation efforts.
Staff members would also send conservation information to whichever of the 12 cities or private companies sends the property owner their bill.