EBMUD board imposes new water restrictions and penalties; favors 25-percent surcharge

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EBMUD board imposes new water restrictions and penalties; favors 25-percent surcharge

A 20-percent mandatory reduction in water use has been imposed by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) board of directors, who voted Tuesday to declare a stage four critical drought.

To achieve that, the EBMUD board voted to tentatively impose a 25-percent surcharge on customers as well as penalties for misuse and overuse, and to immediately set new, strict limits on water use, according to news reports.

The 25-percent surcharge, which requires another public hearing and vote by the EBMUD board, will be used to pay to use 33,250 acre-feet of water, about two-months worth of supply, from the Sacramento River. It will increase the bill for the average household, which uses 246 gallons a day, by $11.65 per month starting on July 1, although the surcharge wouldn’t show up on customers’ bills until September.

EBMUD’s board also voted to impose penalties on those who use more than four times the amount of water than the average residential customer, and on customers who steal or misuse water from a public fire hydrant. The penalty for stealing water would be $1,000 for the first violation, $2,000 for the second and $3,000 for every additional violation in a 12-month period.

The penalties, which also requires a second vote by the EBMUD board, would start being handed down to customers in July but wouldn’t show up on customers’ bills until September.

New restrictions effective immediately include a prohibition on watering for 48 hours after rainstorms; and no watering between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Those add to existing restrictions on watering, including using hoses with shutoff nozzles to wash vehicles; using a broom or air blower rather than water to clean hard surfaces such as driveways and sidewalks; and turning off fountains or decorative water features that don’t recirculate water.

The 20-percent cutback was in response to Gov. Jerry Brown’s April 1 executive order for California’s urban water districts to cut back 25 percent on average.

The cutbacks are necessary as water storage is projected to be near-record lows and reservoirs are expected to be at only one-third of capacity by Oct. 1, EBMUD said.

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.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the times during which EBMUD is prohibiting watering. The article has been changed to reflect the correct information that watering is prohibited between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

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