Excessive Use Penalty

Board adopts amended excessive water use penalty ordinance

Originally enacted in 2015 and in place during serious droughts, the EBMUD Excessive Water Use Penalty Ordinance encourages conservation and protects water supplies by setting penalties for single-family residential customers whose water use exceeds a specified threshold. To comply with California State law, on September 28, 2021, EBMUD’s Board of Directors amended the excessive use penalty ordinance to include lower-level droughts and to adjust penalty thresholds. The ordinance is not currently active but could become so if current drought conditions worsen.

The amended ordinance will now be in place during stages 3 and 4 droughts as before, as well as during stage 2 droughts and applicable Governor-declared drought emergencies. It establishes a penalty of $2 per unit of water used above the following thresholds:

  • Stage 2 droughts: 66 units per month, or roughly 1,646 gallons per day
  • Stage 3 droughts: 59 units per month (approximately 1,471 gallons per day)
  • Stage 4 droughts: 40 units per month (approximately 1,000 gallons per day).

In addition, EBMUD is legally required to respond to California Public Records Act requests with the name, water usage data, and home address of any customers who violate the ordinance.

The Board also added a warning for the first exceedance to allow customers an opportunity to make leak repairs, reduce irrigation, change behaviors, or take other actions to reduce household water use. Therefore, the first time a customer exceeds the threshold during a drought cycle, they will not be in violation of the ordinance.

When the Excessive Water Use Ordinance is activated, EBMUD will contact customers who may be affected by the ordinance, based on past water use, to inform them that they may fall within the water use threshold of the ordinance. EBMUD will explain the impacts of the ordinance (financial implications and legally required release of personal information to the media upon request) and will provide water conservation resources to help them reduce their water use.


EBMUD established an Excessive Water Use Ordinance on April 28, 2015, effective May 29, 2015, that prohibited the excessive use of water. As EBMUD was in a Stage 4 drought at that time, single-family residential customers who used more than 80 units (59,840 gallons) of water per billing period were subject to a $2 penalty for each unit (or portion of a unit) over the 80-unit threshold. The ordinance was suspended on May 3, 2016 when the drought was declared over.

On August 30, 2016, the Governor signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 814, adding language to the Water Code (commencing with section 365) that prohibits “excessive water use” by single family residential customers whenever mandatory rationing is in effect, or when the District is affected by a drought declared by the Governor based on local conditions. Each urban retail water supplier is required to define “excessive water use” within its boundaries and establish a method of identifying and discouraging such excessive water use. EBMUD’s 2021 amendments to the ordinance bring it into compliance with this State law.

Public Disclosure Requirements

High water use customers should be aware that under the California Public Records Act (Section 6254.16(d) of Government Code 6250-6276.48) EBMUD is required to release the name, home address and water use data of customers using water in violation of EBMUD's regulations and ordinance if that data is requested pursuant to a Public Records Act request. In the past EBMUD has received public records requests from the media for information about customers whose use is excessive as defined by the ordinance. If EBMUD receives a valid public records request for information about violations of its excessive use ordinance, EBMUD will comply and the media may publish that information. EBMUD understands customers' concerns about their private information and will only release information which is required to be released by law. EBMUD takes customer privacy very seriously and has a practice of never voluntarily releasing customer information to a third party unless required by law.

Appeal an Excessive Use Penalty

An imposed penalty may be appealed for a valid medical reason or in the case of District billing error, demonstrable meter malfunction, or a water leak that resulted in water loss that did not benefit the account holder. If you wish to appeal this penalty, please fill out and return the appeal form (available below). Please include photos or other evidence supporting your appeal.

  • The appeal must be signed and dated by the appellant/account holder.
  • Incomplete or unreadable appeals will be denied.
  • Your appeal must be post-marked within 15 calendar days of the date of the water bill for the billing cycle in which the penalty was imposed.
  • You will receive a response from EBMUD within 30 days of EBMUD’s receipt of your appeal.
  • Appeals must be mailed. Faxes or emails are not accepted.

Mail your appeal to:

EBMUD Excessive Water Penalty Ordinance Appeals
c/o EBMUD Customer Services Division
P.O. Box 24055, MS #42
Oakland, CA 94623-1055

Document Type Size
Excessive Water Use Penalty Appeal Form PDF <1 MB