Drought emergency ends 

Pardee Reservoir, the largest reservoir serving the East Bay, is full.

Pardee Reservoir, the largest reservoir serving the East Bay, is full.

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 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 pay for emergency dry year water supplies and expand conservation.
  • Permanently adopt outdoor watering rules. 


Water Supply Update
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Total system storage
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Mokelumne watershed precipitation
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Precipitation – percent of average

Daily water supply report (detailed data)

Outdoor watering rules

The following outdoor watering restrictions are in effect 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.

For businesses: 

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


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

Drought costs
The drought had other far-reaching effects on EBMUD’s finances. The drought cost EBMUD $75 million in FY 2016 alone. 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 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.

A new standard of using less


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. 

Drought Report

This document summarizes the key initiatives deployed and the approach, actions, and insights captured from the 2014-2016 drought response.

Document Type Size
2014-2016 Drought Report Executive Summary PDF <1 MB

Video: The power of water

EBMUD's Pardee Powerhouse converts the water from strong winter storms into hydroelectric power.   

Video: When it rains, it (sometimes) spills

Pardee Reservoir reached capacity in January 2017 and began spilling into Camanche. By controlling releases, EBMUD can manage the impacts of intense rainfall, and thereby protect public safety and property downstream.