Drought

Drought ends, saving water rain or shine continues 

Pardee Reservoir, the largest reservoir that serves the East Bay, is nearly full thanks to a wet winter.

Pardee Reservoir, the largest reservoir that serves the East Bay, is nearly full thanks to a wet winter.

Precipitation in EBMUD’s Mokelumne watershed, the main source of drinking water for 1.4 million customers, is more than 100 percent of normal in 2016. With our reservoirs refilling and water supply projections sufficient to meet demand, EBMUD declared an end to our drought emergency on May 10, 2016. Because of investments in conservation, recycling and supplemental supplies, EBMUD and our customers rose to the challenge to meet the East Bay’s water needs during a historic four-year drought.  

The EBMUD Board of Directors evaluated customer conservation and our healthy water supplies and voted to:

  • ease the drought level to Stage 0, indicating normal water supplies. The drought stage had been designated at Stage 4 critical drought since April 2015. 
  • lift the temporary drought surcharge from customer bills effective July 1, 2016. The drought surcharge helped EBMUD pay for emergency dry year water supplies and expand conservation efforts. 
  • Permanently adopt outdoor watering restrictions effective July 1, 2016. They have been expanded to encourage wise water use.

Outdoor watering rules

The following are outdoor watering restrictions effective July 1, 2016. They have been expanded to encourage wise water use.

  • Repair leaks  
  • When watering outdoor landscapes, avoid runoff on sidewalks, streets and hardscapes.
  • No washing of driveways and sidewalks; except as needed for health and safety.
  • Use only hoses with shutoff nozzles to wash vehicles.
  • Turn off fountains or decorative water features unless the water is recirculated. 
  • No irrigating ornamental turf on public street medians.
  • No watering of outdoor landscapes within 48 hours of rainfall.
  • When watering outdoor landscapes, avoid runoff on sidewalks, streets and hardscapes. 

For businesses: 

  • Restaurants must only offer water upon customer request 
  • Hotels must provide guests the option to reuse towels and linens 

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Water Supply Update
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Daily water supply report (detailed data)

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Long-term planning continues as drought surcharge and excessive use penalty ends 

Drought costs
Although we have a healthy amount of water now, the drought had other far-reaching effects on EBMUD’s finances. Just this fiscal year alone, the drought cost EBMUD $75 million. This included the purchase and treatment of supplemental water supplies, lost water sales revenue, and added operational costs including conservation outreach. The drought surcharge, which will expire July 1, helped recover $50 million. Cost savings plus withdrawals from EBMUD’s savings account and belt-tightening will bridge the remaining shortfall.

Drought surcharge expires
Customers will no longer pay the 25 percent Stage 4 drought surcharge effective July 1, 2016. However, customers will pay a 7 percent rate increase approved by the board last year to fund ongoing services and investments in our aging infrastructure. The average customer's water bill will drop by $4.42 per month.

Excessive use penalty lifted
The Excessive Water Use Penalty, an ordinance that levied fines on customers who used more than 80 units of water per billing cycle, was suspended effective May 3, 2016. The ordinance will remain on the books if needed during future droughts.

Thank you for using less

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Customers surpassed EBMUD’s and Governor Brown’s request to reduce water use.

The goal: cut back water use by 20 percent. Customers conserved 24 percent compared to 2013. In fact, water demand in 2016 is at its lowest since 1978. 

Customers demonstrated a record-breaking interest in all rebate programs, choosing WaterSmart landscapes over thirsty lawns and making household efficiency upgrades a best practice. 

theLawnGoodbye_4.0-5-31-2016-2.pngConservation by the numbers 

 

The long-lasting conservation changes and habits customers made boosted our reservoir levels and will prepare us for the next drought ahead. 

  • 3 million square-feet of lawn removed 
  • 65,000 customers enrolled in Home Water Reports 
  • 12,799 rebates provided for high-efficiency clothes washers 
  • 8,915 rebates for high-efficiency toilets 
  • 6,000+ water waste complaints received by phone and online 
  • 73 East Bay businesses and entities certified as WaterSmart Businesses

Tools to save water

Visit the EBMUD WaterSmart Center, and see Save our Water for more tools to help you conserve.

 
Rebates and free items

 
Report water waste

  
WaterSmart Calculator

Lessons learned: How did we get here?

In 1976-77, East Bay residents and the East Bay economy felt the pain of severe mandatory water rationing. To limit future hardship, EBMUD and its ratepayers invested nearly $1 billion to diversify and increase water supplies during the last three decades.

Those investments paid off. Water supplies from the Sacramento River were delivered to East Bay taps through the Freeport Regional Water Facility in 2014 and 2015, in time to bridge the water supply gap when our Mokelumne River supply was stressed.

Over the past 10 years, customers have reduced their water use by 20 percent. Additionally, EBMUD continues to invest in additional water supplies, recycled water projects and conservation programs. Today, the East Bay is better prepared to cope with a severe drought than it has ever been. 

Water Supply Briefings

Below find Water Supply Briefings and other drought-related documents. Visit the Board of Directors Meeting page to view other documents and presentations. 

Fact sheets