Is the Bay Area doing enough to conserve water?

Mandatory rationing could be in store for thousands of Bay Area water users unless we start using less water on our own.
There are questions over whether the Bay Area is doing its part to save water as the severe California drought drags on. Gov. Jerry Brown wants all of us to slash usage by 20 percent, but San Francisco Public Utilities Commission customers only cut 5 percent and East Bay MUD, just 12 percent.

On Jan. 17, Brown declared a drought emergency, asking everyone in the state to cut back their water consumption by 20 percent. And the Bay Area's two largest water districts responded by asking their combined 4 million customers to voluntarily reduce their consumption by 10 percent.

"We made a call on Jan. 31 to ask our customers to reduce their use by 10 percent," SFPUC spokesperson Ellen Levin said.

The SFPUC provides water to San Francisco and 26 other agencies in the Bay Area. So far, its 2.6 million customers are not doing their part.

"So, year to date, since we asked for voluntary reduction, we're at about 5 percent of reduction," Levin said.

Andy Katz is the president of the East Bay MUD board of directors. He says his customers are doing their part and even exceeding the requested 10 percent reduction.

"Even though EBMUD only asked for 10 percent, EBMUD customers have been conserving 12 percent since we asked," Katz said.

Katz thinks the 10 percent is enough going forward, even with the Sierra snowpack nearly gone and key reservoirs frighteningly depleted.

"At the moment our water supply is going to be adequate if customers continue to conserve at the levels they're doing right now," Katz said.

As for the SFPUC, if there's no improvement in the next month, customers may see that 10 percent voluntary request ramped up.

"If we don't see a response, we've put everyone on notice that June 15 we may be coming back and asking for further reduction," Levin said.

The governor's office did not respond to a request from ABC7 News for further comment on his call for conservation, referring us back to the statements Brown made back in January.
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