Water emergency declared in the East Bay

The Board of Directors did approve a temporary 10 percent rate increase, but that cannot go into effect until the hearing process takes place, which should take a couple of months. It will give customers time to learn how to conserve now, or else they will have to pay a lot more lately.

With that, the Board of Directors for the East Bay Municipal Utility District declared a water shortage emergency. With it, they imposed mandatory restrictions on water use as part of its $5 million dollar drought management plan.

"I hope that people understand that essentially today and tomorrow, they need to cut back 15 percent," says member of the board John Coleman.

The water emergency comes after EBMUD staff predicted its storage at reservoirs like Pardee and Comanche would drop to 415,000 acre feet by the end of September and considered severe drought stage.

To prevent that, EBMUD has set a goal to reduce overall water consumption by 15 percent across the district, but different users will be subject to different restrictions on how much they must cut back.

Single family residential - 19 percent (cut back)
Multi-family residential - 11 percent
Irrigation - 30 percent
Commercial -12 percent
Institutional - 9 percent
Industrial - 5 percent.

The cutback would be based on an individual customer's past usage.

Oakland's Sandra Turnbull thinks that's unfair, since her family of four already conserves water, averaging just 120 gallons per day.

"The water hogs get rewarded because for those using 172 gallons per day, their use has to be reduced to 140 gallons, and that' 20 gallons more than our current average is now," says Turnbull.

Those who use water for irrigation stand to suffer the most. San Ramon's Roger Fisk worries the drought restrictions could ruin landscape contractors like himself.

"Besides the housing slump and the gas prices, now we're faced, our industries faced with people who aren't going to want to landscape. There's going to be thousand and thousands of employees who lose their jobs."

EBMUD customers should receive descriptions of the cut-backs in the mail, along with the new rate structure. However, it will not go into affect until late in the summer and the Board of Directors will not vote on it until July 8. In the meantime, customers will have time to voice their opposition. If the rate hike does get approved, it will go into effect on August 1.



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