Multiple water transfers authorized by EBMUD board

Local reservoirs to fill and stay full through the summer

More water will flow from the Sacramento River into East Bay Municipal Utility District pipes and reservoirs this year pending three water transfer agreements authorized at today’s board of directors meeting.

Staff was authorized to negotiate purchases of up to 21,000 acre feet of water combined from the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, Reclamation District 1004 and Sycamore Mutual Water Company. One acre foot is 325,851 gallons. Each acre foot is priced at $700.

“This water comes at a significantly higher cost for EBMUD than our normal water supplies, but purchasing this water is necessary to protect our customers and our local economy,” said General Manager Alexander R. Coate.

All three sellers are senior water rights holders on the Sacramento River. Under agreements signed this month with the US Bureau of Reclamation, they can sell available water to EBMUD. If the purchases are approved by their boards, this is the first time the District will obtain water from these sellers.

When the board of directors declared a Stage 4 drought earlier this month, EBMUD staff was authorized to buy up to 65,000 acre feet of additional water. That represents a 4-5 month supply for its 1.4 million customers. District reservoirs are half full today and expected to drop further by the end of the summer.

Delivery of 33,250 acre feet of water from the District’s federal contract with the US Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Valley Project – a 25 percent allocation – began flowing into local reservoirs on April 15.

“Since our federal allocation was smaller than expected, we moved forward on negotiating additional water transfers to reach our goal of bringing 65,000 acre feet of water into our reservoirs,” said Coate. 

Most years, most of EBMUD’s water supply comes from Sierra snowmelt above the Mokelumne River and travels to the East Bay via the Mokelumne Aqueducts. In drought years, EBMUD can use the Freeport Regional Water Facility on the Sacramento River to access additional water supplies. In 2010, construction was completed on the intake facility, 23 miles of pipeline and 3 pumping stations that connect EBMUD’s Mokelumne Aqueducts to the Sacramento River.

If the proposed fiscal year 2016 budget and temporary Stage 4 drought surcharge are approved by the EBMUD board of directors on June 9, staff will be able spend up to $55.8 million to purchase, deliver and treat additional water supplies in the next fiscal year. The proposed temporary drought surcharge and regular rate increase would add $11.65 to the average monthly household water bill, increasing it from $48.60 to $60.25.

 “We’re working with our customers to achieve a district-wide cutback of 20 percent of 2013 water use, but conservation alone won’t get us through this drought,” said Coate. “Buying additional water is part of the plan for stretching our water supplies this summer and next year.”

The average EBMUD household used 246 gallons per day in 2013. Last year, EBMUD customers reduced their use 12 percent, saving 24,600 acre feet.