East Bay Municipal Sets Rationing Goals

The East Bay Municipal Utility District Board of Directors voted unanimously to immediately implement a drought management program to safeguard its shrinking water supply amidst a second consecutive dry year. The district is in Oakland, Calif.

The district received roughly half of its normal runoff this year and projects its water storage will be more than 200,000 acre-feet short of the water desired by October 1 (the beginning of a new rain year). The district is seeking a 15 percent reduction in water use district-wide. Implementing the drought program and mandatory restrictions on water use now would stretch the dwindling supply further, especially if next year is dry.

To achieve its 15 percent water savings, the district is calling for single-family residential customers to cut back by 19 percent; multi-family units, 11 percent; irrigators, 30 percent; commercial, 12 percent; institutional 9 percent; and industrial, 5 percent.

The drought program prohibits the following:

• using water for decorative ponds, lakes, and fountains except those that recycle the water,

• washing vehicles with hoses that do not contain shutoff nozzles,

• washing sidewalks, patios and similar hard surfaces,

• irrigating outdoors on consecutive days or more than three days a week,

• lawn or garden watering that results in excessive runoff,

• sewer and hydrant flushing and washing streets with drinking water supplied by the district except for essential purposes,

• the use of potable water for construction if alternatives are available,

• the use of potable water for soil compaction and dust control when another source is available.

The board discussed the implementation of drought rates, which will be considered for approval at its July 8 meeting and public hearing. Under that proposal, water volume charges for most single-family residential water customers increase by 10 percent. These customers will be asked to cut their water use by 19 percent (based on the average of their last three years of water bills). Customers who achieve this goal will see a reduction in their overall water bill. But those who still use more than 90 percent of their allotted water budget will face a $2 surcharge for each unit of water they consume beyond that threshold. One unit of water is 748 gallons.

Customers who use small amounts of water, less than 100 gallons a day, would be exempt from the 10 percent volume increase and the surcharge.

Surcharges and increases will take effect for other customer groups as well on August 1, if the board approves the proposed rate plan.

"This is a serious challenge for all of us," said Dennis Diemer, district general manager, "but the district is prepared to meet it and we know from past history our customers are more than ready as well."

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