What happens after drought?
This winter turned the tables on EBMUD’s historic four-year drought—for the wetter. Our reservoirs, thirsty for crisp mountain water, will refill thanks to snowmelt and precipitation in our Mokelumne watershed.
With this good news, the EBMUD Board ended the drought emergency and lifted the temporary Stage 4 drought surcharge of 25 percent from customer bills. Customers are urged to continue their water-saving habits.
The surcharge, which expired on July 1, 2016, helped pay for the purchase and delivery of emergency water supplies and drought operations. While the drought surcharge is gone, customers will pay a 7 percent rate increase approved by the board last year to fund ongoing services and infrastructure investments. The average customer’s water bill will still drop by $4.42 per month because of the expired surcharge.
Saving water is here to stay
Outdoor watering rules are extended to encourage wise water use. After all, conservation is an East Bay way of life. Just how low did your water use go? In 2015, water use was 24 percent less compared to 2013. In fact, EBMUD customers saved enough water in 2015 to fill the Oakland Coliseum 71 times!
Drought planning continues
Because conservation alone was not enough, EBMUD turned to our largest infrastructure investment in recent years and started the pumps at the Freeport Regional Water Facility to deliver Sacramento River water to East Bay taps. Emergency water supplies and other operational expenses cost EBMUD $75 million, of which only $50 million was recovered from the surcharge. Cost savings and withdrawals from our emergency savings account will bridge the gap.
As dry and drier become the California norm, EBMUD is busy planning for the next drought and the one after that. We’ll keep investing in conservation, water recycling, emergency water supplies and new technologies to continue delivering reliable water rain or shine.