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December 16, 2011 > Revised county standards for water supplies

Revised county standards for water supplies

Submitted By Gwen Mitchell/Laurel Anderson

Santa Clara County Fire Marshal, Chief Ken Kehmna, and County of Santa Clara Supervisor Mike Wasserman announced today that the Santa Clara County Fire Marshal's Office has begun to implement revised fire suppression water supply standards for businesses.

The new, revised standards were developed as a result of concerns brought forward by the agribusiness community that the existing standards were overly restrictive and inconsistent with those applied in other counties with similar agricultural industries in rural areas. The revision was made after extensive research of standards used by other counties that typically require less fire suppression water storage in rural areas. This action is expected to save thousands of dollars for business owners.

"Before taking office, I heard from winery owners and other agribusinesses about a variety of county regulations that made it difficult to do business," said Supervisor Wasserman. "I came into office committed to changing that, and thanks to the collaborative work of Fire Chief Kehmna, his team, and the Planning Department staff, we are well on our way."

The Santa Clara County Department of Planning and Development implements standards for water supplies for fire protection of new buildings. The County Fire Code allows the Fire Marshal's Office to determine what the allowable fire protection water supplies should be.

For many years, Santa Clara County has used water supply standards designed for an urban environment with high building density. Agribusinesses with buildings in rural areas subject to the standards for water supply had to store large volumes of water, because they had no access to municipal storage systems.

Other counties with rural industries such as farms and agriculture production facilities use water storage standards lower than the County's. The County's new standards are consistent with those in place in Napa County, and will result in a significant reduction in the water supply storage required. Now water storage requirements at single or isolated buildings in a rural setting with limited exposure to other structures will be lower. Under the new standards, fire suppression water supplies will be reduced and will result in savings for any non-residential building project.

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