Board approves $1.8 billion budget for next two years

Temporary Stage 4 drought surcharge to take effect July 1

OAKLAND – This week the East Bay Municipal Utility District Board of Directors approved a $1.8 billion biennial budget that will fund needed water and wastewater capital projects that replace aging pipelines and rehab aging reservoirs, continue to pay for long-term water supply infrastructure, and account for the increasing costs of drought.

The Board of Directors unanimously approved an 8 percent average water rate increase as well as a temporary 25 percent Stage 4 drought surcharge. Both will take effect on July 1, 2015. The drought surcharge recovers the costs of additional water supplies and temporary staff who will support water conservation and enforce watering restrictions.

“Over the short-term, this new budget allows us to pay for increasing drought costs including additional water supplies to fill local reservoirs. Long-term, it set us on the right path of replacing more miles of aging water pipes every year,” said Board President Frank Mellon.

In fiscal year 2016 that starts next month, the average EBMUD single family household that uses about 7,500 gallons per month will see an increase in their monthly water charge of $3.57, increasing their bill from $48.60 to $52.17 each month. About two-thirds of EBMUD’s single family residential customers use less than the average amount. In addition, a drought surcharge on their flow charge will increase the average residential bill further from $52.17 to $60.25 per month. Combined, this would be about a 24 percent increase for the average household.

A 7 percent rate increase for all water customers also was approved for fiscal year 2017.

Water budget increased for infrastructure replacement 

The two-year capital improvement cash flow for both water and wastewater is $536 million, a 20 percent increase over the prior two-year budget as the district pushes forward with critical replacement and rehab projects on key segments of the $14.4 billion infrastructure assets it manages and operates across seven counties.

The total water budget is $731.4 million in fiscal year 2016 and $794.9 million in fiscal year 2017. The largest capital spending for water in the budget include funds to

• Replace 26-30 miles of distribution pipes ($69 million)
• Rehab 3-4 steel reservoirs ($31 million)
• Make upgrades at 6 water treatment plants ($28 million)
• Make safety improvements at dams and reservoir towers ($17 million)
• Upgrade information technology ($7 million)
• Launch phase 1 of relining the Mokelumne Aqueducts ($4 million)

The budget authorizes 41new staff positions, mostly for pipeline replacement crews and temporary drought-related customer service and water conservation positions.

Wastewater bill to decrease

EBMUD provides wastewater treatment to 650,000 customers in Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Kensington, Oakland, Piedmont and part of Richmond. The total wastewater budget is $169.7 million in fiscal year 2016 and $137.2 million in fiscal year 2017.

In fiscal year 2016, the average EBMUD residential wastewater customer who flushes or drains about 4,500 gallons per month will see a decrease in their monthly wastewater bill of $0.24, lowering their bill from $19.25 to $19.01 each month, about a 1.3 percent decrease. Most of EBMUD’s single family residential customers flush or drain less than the average amount. The residential wastewater customer rate decrease will be offset by a rate increase for non-residential customer classes.

Aging infrastructure is also a challenge for the EBMUD wastewater system. Major capital spending will continue in this budget period as the district continues rehabilitation of two major interceptor pipelines on 3rd Street and Wood Street in Oakland, implements odor control measures at its West Oakland treatment plant and begins planning improvements to the regional collection system as agreed to under last year’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency consent decree.

Seismic charge sunsets 

Amid the schedule of new rates and charges, one charge now missing is the District’s Seismic Improvement Program Surcharge. Since 1994, water customers have paid a surcharge with every bill to pay for Seismic Improvement Program. That program was launched more than 20 years ago when the Loma Prieta earthquake was still fresh on the minds of District customers. At a cost of $189 million, EBMUD retrofitted District dams and reservoirs and its most critical transmission lines, including the Claremont Tunnel, a pass that runs parallel to the Caldecott Tunnel in the Oakland hills and delivers water to nearly one million people. The work lasted nearly a decade to complete.

“Earthquakes are never far off the minds of Californians. It’s good news that we were able to accomplish necessary retrofits to our system years ago, and even better news that the whole endeavor came in under budget. The seismic charge is going away, ten years ahead of schedule,” said Mellon. 

Most recently, the seismic surcharge was $2.74 per month for the majority of EBMUD customers.

EBMUD has a proud history of providing high-quality drinking water for 1.4 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. The District’s award-winning wastewater treatment protects San Francisco Bay and serves 650,000 customers.


Tracie Morales
Public Information Representative