Ongoing drought has water districts weighing options

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ByLaura Anthony KGO logo
Thursday, January 8, 2015
Ongoing drought has water districts weighing options
Despite the heavy downpours in December the Contra Costa Water District wants to raise rates, but East Bay MUD postpones their increases.

CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- On Wednesday, East Bay MUD postponed a planned drought rate increase, since December was so wet. However, a neighboring water agency is poised to raise rates now.

The board of directors at the Contra Costa Water District will vote on Wednesday evening on increasing rates. It is something they do consider every January, but certainly the drought is a factor.

It wasn't all that long ago that we here in the Bay Area pushed those drought worries aside, just long enough to take in some heavy rains -- the kind that created flooding and even kayaks on the streets of Healdsburg.

Now, reality is back. And though East Bay MUD has decided to postpone a 14 percent drought rate increase, to pay for additional water supplies, it appears the reprieve may be only temporary.

"Last month's storms did help a little bit so we postponed the decision to bring in additional water for now. It's possible that in a couple more weeks, that we'll have to bring in that water," EBMUD spokesperson Abby Figuerora said.

Meantime, East Bay MUD is asking its 1.3 million customers to increase their voluntary conservation to 15 percent. Right now, they've cut back about 13 percent.

Farther east, Contra Costa Water District customers are well ahead of conservation goals, having cut back more than 20 percent, but they will likely see their bills go up by about 3 percent, which is about $2 per month for the average customer.

"We've seen some good storms here locally, which is great. However we do have a large hole up in the Sierra. We need to see more snow coming down to fill the reservoirs that feed into the Delta," Jennifer Allen from the Contra Costa Water District said.

Most major reservoirs are well below average and the snowpack in the Sierra is just 50 percent of what it should be for this time of year.