East Bay ignoring water restrictions

June 19, 2008 11:36:26 AM PDT
There is an urgent call in the East Bay for residents to conserve water.

Water officials for Alameda and Contra Costa counties say customers are ignoring their recent order to cutback in this drought year with higher rates about to kick in.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District is starting a massive ad campaign on television, radio and print ad campaignt to get more people to cut water usage during the drought. One month into their mandatory conservation program, they're falling well short of the goal.

Tom Pacheco knows it's a little easier to save water when your front lawn doesn't need it to stay green.

"None, none at all - It rocks," said Pacheco.

He is one of 1.3 million customers in the East Bay Municipal Utility District ordered to Cut water usage by 19 percent.

"Shorter showers, make sure the kids, we have two kids, so make sure they are aware of it so they don't have to run the water more than they need to," said Pacheco.

And while the Pacheco family believes they're doing their part, East Bay MUD officials say customers are falling short of the 19 percent goal, only cutting four-percent since the mandatory water restrictions were put in place last month. Officials say there won't be a water police, but more like ambassadors patrolling the neighborhoods.

"We're adding people who will go out into the community and educate and talk and try to bring the community around this issue, that we all need to save water," said Charles Hardy, EBMUD spokesman.

The first mandatory water restrictions in the district were approved last month so people could adjust their usage before officials vote on penalties and fines in July.

Officials also approved a temporary 10 percent rate increase for households that use more than 100 gallons a day. Ironically, a pipe operated by East Bay MUD in Lafayette is leaking about 36,000 gallons a day, equal to desired usage of 3,600 homes.

"They're trying to come up with a way to capture the water and re-circulate it, so it won't be wasted," said Hardy.

Its not just homeowners being asked to conserve. Large irrigators like golf courses, cemeteries and Caltrans must cut 30 percent. Industrial customers like refineries must cut five percent.


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