East Bay MUD board approves 14-percent water surchage due to drought

East Bay MUD board approves 14-percent water surchage due to drought

Local water rates are set to increase by 14-percent in January — a hike of about $4.30 per month for the average single family — as a result of the drought.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District Board of Directors voted Tuesday to approve the increase despite the recent rains. The surcharge will be temporary and would be phased out if enough rain dumps on us this winter.

The money raised by the surcharge, about $16 million, will pay for the cost to usher in 16,000 acre feet of emergency water from the Sacramento River, EBMUD said.

While the surcharge is temporary, EBMUD staff recommended that its board vote on higher surcharges this summer in case a dry winter forces the utility to purchase more water.

The board also asked ratepayers to cut their water use by 15-percent, or 5-percent higher than it previously requested. The average EBMUD household uses an average 246 gallons per day. A 15-percent reduction is 37 gallons less, the agency said.

“This is our third dry year in a row,”  said Board President Andy Katz. “Our customers’ ongoing conservation before and during this drought is one reason why we have not had to ask for harsh cutbacks. We do expect some more rain this winter, but possibly not enough. It is prudent to prepare to ask our customers to cut back a little more in case our reservoirs don’t refill this winter and the drought continues.”

The EBMUD supplies water to a 332-square-mile area in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, extending from Crockett in the north, southward to San Lorenzo, eastward from San Francisco Bay to Walnut Creek, and south through the San Ramon Valley, according to the district.