OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) on Tuesday declared a Stage 2 drought, which means mandatory water restrictions and likely additional costs for the utility’s 1.4 million customers.
During the height of the last drought, EBMUD customers faced mandatory cutbacks of 25%. The utility isn’t there yet, but the first restrictions are here, and the surcharge isn’t far behind.
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“So there are things we started doing in 2015 that we actually still do now,” said Castro Valley resident Terry Mar. “Like, we have a bucket in our shower.”
Marr will acknowledge right away that his lawn is looking very lush after the April rains.
“It’ll turn brown,” he added.
Mar and his wife have taken plenty of steps to cut back, and they have been for years.
“We try to use less water,” he said. “As much as we can.”
With a vote Tuesday, the district will begin asking for more conservation, starting with a 10% mandatory reduction districtwide.
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“Our goal right now is to implement our plans for conservation, and for supplemental supplies,” explained district spokesperson Andrea Pook. “So we want a lot of options as we prepare for next year.”
The vote also moves the district towards excessive water use penalties. For residential customers, excessive is considered 1,646 gallons per day, more than eight times the average home usage.
“2020, I’m using 105 gallons a day,” Mar said of his bill.
Mar uses about half the average amount per day, but every customer will soon face some additional cost. The board is now debating a drought surcharge that could be as high as 8%.
“That would be about 10 cents per day for an average user,” Pook said of the surcharge.
That money would be used to buy more water from around the state, but even with more water, more cutbacks are possible in the months ahead.
“I actually told my wife the other day that we can start taking showers every other day,” Mar laughed.
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The warnings will start immediately. In fact, households that have been using an excessive amount of water will be hearing from the district in the coming weeks. If the excessive numbers don’t improve the district can take action, anywhere from additional charges, to turn off the meter.