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Drought Emergency: Santa Clara Water Officials Issue Dire Warning As Reservoirs Dip To Historic Lows

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- With the state in the grips of a historic drought, reservoirs in Santa Clara County are at extremely low levels, as seen in a new video from the county's water provider.

Santa Clara Valley Water, which provides for and manages the water needs of two million people in the county, released a new video Wednesday illustrating the dire state of the county's reservoirs.

"The situation has been the most dire we've seen in our county, probably ever," says Water District Director Gary Kremen.

After 2017, when the state saw reservoirs in the county were full, Valley Water said reservoirs are currently at just 12.5% of capacity. The video compares each of the county's reservoirs from 2017 and 2021.

The district's largest reservoir -- Anderson -- is nearly completely empty at 3% capacity as it undergoes a seismic retrofit. The $575 million project will reduce the risk of flooding and help the reservoir withstand a major earthquake.

Meanwhile, the district's remaining nine reservoirs aren't in much better shape. Stevens Creek and Guadalupe reservoirs are at 14% capacity. Uvas is slightly better at 18% but dropping quickly.

Uvas Reservoir (Santa Clara Valley Water District)

"This is sad. I mean I'll bet you we're going to go on a two or three year drought," said water customer Brett Barclay.

The entire Bay Area and most of California is in either extreme or exceptional drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Statewide, reservoirs are also reaching historic lows, the agency said. Oroville Reservoir is at just 23% of capacity and San Luis Reservoir is at 15%, which will result in drastic reductions to the amount of water Valley Water will import this year from each reservoir.

In June, the Valley Water's Board of Directors declared a water shortage emergency and implemented a 15% mandatory water-use reduction compared to 2019 for all of Santa Clara County.

However, the call to conserve has not been heeded. The water district says they had a net savings of zero in the month of June compared to 2019.

Officials said it's time for people to make changes to their behavior and start saving now.

"When I take a shower, I'll take a bucket and run the water, so that the water collects in the bucket. And when it starts to get warm, I'll take the bucket and throw the water into the laundry," said Mona Schorow during a break on his bike ride around Lexington Reservoir.

Devin Fehely contributed to this report.

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