EBMUD Board of Directors asks customers to cut water use by 10 percent

Due to unusually dry conditions, decreasing reservoir levels and a potentially pessimistic forecast for the rest of the rainy season, the EBMUD Board of Directors today announced that to protect water supplies, voluntary cutbacks of 10 percent are needed from all customers effective immediately.

EBMUD relies on snowmelt and runoff for almost all of its supply. As of this weekend, the amount of snow and rain in the Mokelumne River watershed 90 miles from the East Bay is 49 percent of normal. EBMUD received more than seven inches from recent storms.

“This weekend’s rain and snow were a relief. But we still have only about half of the average precipitation we count on,” said Board President Andy Katz.

Many East Bay residents and businesses have made conservation a way of life. In fact, EBMUD customers use 17 percent less water today than they did five years ago. Some customers also have been using recycled water for irrigation or industrial process, further extending supplies.

“We are grateful to our customers who use water wisely every day. But we must ask for a ten percent voluntary cutback to make sure we have enough water stored in case this water shortage persists,” said Katz.

Customers are asked to cut 10 percent to stretch supplies and to keep up those efforts until further notice. If dry conditions persist and rain and snowfall are not enough to sufficiently refill EBMUD reservoirs, it is possible that EBMUD will declare a water shortage emergency in April. At that time, EBMUD’s Board of Directors will review the final precipitation totals and may take additional measures.

EBMUD will continue assisting its customers to save water through rebates and targeted information and assistance.

While customers cut back their water use, EBMUD is also preparing to obtain water from the Sacramento River via its Freeport Regional Water Facility, which EBMUD and its partner, Sacramento County Water Agency, completed in 2011. The facility has the capacity to move 100 million gallons per day to the East Bay during dry years. The water is available through a contract with the US Bureau of Reclamation. The Bureau is set to determine in late February how much water will be provided this year to its contractors, including EBMUD. EBMUD also is working with the Placer County Water Agency on a potential water transfer, which includes the benefit of water releases in the lower American River that provides a boost to migrating fish.

“EBMUD wants to thank customers who are already saving water. And if mandatory rationing becomes necessary, we guarantee that customer allocations would not be based on use during this voluntary cutback period,” said Katz. “Now is a great time to fix leaks, manage irrigation and transform lawns to sustainable landscapes. We hope that these water savings can help us avoid more stringent measures later.”

For the latest water supply update, information on rebates and watersmart tips, go to www.ebmud.com/watersmart.