gmhTODAY 06 gmhToday Jan Feb 2016 - Page 18

connection of clothes washers to outdoor graywater systems, use of water-conserv- ing irrigation hardware and controllers, and installation of high-efficiency clothes washers and toilets. These rebate programs are limited by time and funding, but residents can easily check online or call for the latest updates from California Department of Water Resources, the Santa Clara Valley Water District, PG&E and other rebate program sponsors. The Water District continues to offer free Water-Wise House Calls to county residents to help identify opportunities to conserve water both in and outside of the home. In November of 2015, the City of Morgan Hill announced plans to raise water rates. City officials notified residents that a new rate scale was under consideration that would require residents whose homes were located at higher elevations to pay more than those whose homes were at lower elevations. Results of a study to support their proposed rate changes were challenged by residents. As I write this article, concerned residents are pe titioning the City, requesting time to review the study, pose questions and voice their concerns to the City Council. This is likely to be just one of many difficult water issues that will face the South County in the coming years. Clearly, the Water District and local government have a lot to do with our water security. But “we the people” need to be aware of where our water comes from, the state of its health, and the cost to ensure safe, clean water in the future. We have a shared responsibility for water, whether it involves consumption, drought response, flood protection, groundwater storage, recycling or some other issue. As a well-informed community, we can cast our vote for leaders who will legislate and manage our water wisely, and challenge them when they fall short. By knowing what’s at stake and staying engaged, we can make sound decisions about water as people in a community of special interests. Our willingness to adapt our attitudes and lifestyles to a changing world of water will put us in the best position to protect our water for our children. 18 Water and Us Learn More about Water California Department of Water Resources ( Santa Clara Valley Water District ( or U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation ( Save Our Water Program Association of California Water Agencies, Dept of Water Resources ( City of Morgan Hill Website ( City of Gilroy Website tal_programs/water_conservation/ U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ( U.S. (California) Drought Monitor ( GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016