East Bay MUD asks people to conserve water

East Bay MUD asks its customers to reduce their water usage by 10 percent.
February 11, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
The rain over the weekend certainly helped, but California is still in the grips of drought. Now the East Bay Municipal Utility District is asking its customers to reduce their water use by 10 percent. It is the latest district to call for voluntary restrictions.

The San Pablo Reservoir in Contra Costa County is one of the storage reservoirs for East Bay MUD. The main reservoir is in the Sierra. Even though customers have already cut water use by 17 percent over the past five years, the utility says with the drought, it's still not enough.

Many gardens and lawns are already going unwatered in Lafayette. The drought is bringing back bad memories of the 1977 drought when Lafayette resident Robert Stevenson lost several trees at his home. Now East Bay MUD is asking customers to voluntarily cut back water use by another 10 percent.

"We're hoping that a 10 percent would just mean we cut back as opposed to just cutting it off," said Stevenson.

He and his wife say they're already conserving and may not plant a vegetable garden for the first time in 30 years.

"I will tell you that most of the people that I know are volunteering it right now," said Robert's wife, Joan Stevenson.

The weekend storm brought several inches of rain to the Lafayette hills, but it needs to hit the sweet spot. And that's the Pardee Reservoir in the Sierra foothills where East Bay MUD gets almost all of its water. That area has only about half the normal rainfall for the season, but some feel it's not time for another 10 percent cutback.

"I think it's premature. I think it's still February and I think that there's a reason to be concerned and there's a reason to be on your best behavior," said Nadeau, a Lafayette resident.

The district would need five more big storms to bring water levels to normal. Worst case scenario, if it stays dry, mandatory rationing could be declared by April.