EBMUD to consider calling for voluntary 10% water reduction

Recent rainstorms do little to quell water-supply concerns as drought conditions persist

Danville residents and businesses could be on their way to receiving a direct request to conserve water.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District Board of Directors on Tuesday (Feb. 11) is set to consider a recommendation from its staff to ask for voluntary 10% reduction in water usage across the district's service area, which includes the town and unincorporated Blackhawk and Diablo.

The pair of recent rainstorms did little to quell concerns about the local water supply at this point in a dry 2014, according to EBMUD spokesperson Abby Figueroa.

"Every storm helps, but as of today we have received just under half of the average precipitation we count on in normal years," she said.

The Danville area received almost 4.9 inches of rain during the last seven days, according to preliminary National Weather Service data recorded at the Las Trampas Regional Wilderness west of the town.

To date, most of the Bay Area has seen less than one-third the amount of precipitation that is normal for this time of year.

Additionally, the Sierra Nevada snowpack on Monday stood at 29% of normal for this time of year statewide, with the northern Sierra at 19% of normal, according to the state Department of Water Resources.

The dry conditions so far this year come on the heels of 2013, the driest year on record in California.

"Clearly we are in a drought. There's no doubt about that," said John A. Coleman, who represents greater Danville on the EBMUD board.

The district typically receives about 90% of its annual water supply from the Sierra's Mokelumne River watershed, which saw approximately six inches of rain during the past few days, Figueroa said. The reservoirs EBMUD depends on currently sit at 63% full, she added.

"Compared to some in the state, we're in much better shape. But overall, I'd say it's pretty bad shape," Coleman said.

Conservation is vital early on this year as district officials work to assess the local water supply, according to Coleman.

"I know a lot of folks have been conserving already, but we need to make sure that we don't put ourselves in a position where we go toward mandatory rationing," he added. "That's not what I want to see happen."

Several key conservation tips, according to Coleman, are reducing shower times, avoid over-watering of plants and household landscapes, and don't leave the water running when brushing teeth or shaving. "It's surprising how much water can be saved by just paying attention to simple things like that," he added.

The call for 10% voluntary conservation is only part of the recommendation to the EBMUD board; another aspect is preparing for the possibility of using supplemental water supplies, to be delivered via the Freeport Regional Water Facility south of Sacramento.

That water would come from sources including the Central Valley Project contract with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and transfers under the district's agreement with the Placer County Water Agency, according to EBMUD officials.

It remains unclear whether EBMUD would need to tap into those alternative sources -- or face any added costs associated with obtaining that water.

The final water-supply forecast, set to be completed in April, will be a key tool for EMBUD directors to use in gauging the area's water outlook for the rest of 2014, and beyond.

"Our goal is to make sure next year we're not in worse shape than we are this year," Coleman said.

The regular EBMUD board meeting is set to begin at 1:15 p.m. Tuesday in the boardroom at 375 11th St. in Oakland.


Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 10, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Residential water usage accounts for 11% of Statewide use. EBMUD asking residents to conserve 10% is a 1% savings Statewide--literally a drop in the bucket. These requests are more for PR and supporting rate hikes than conservation. Meanwhile, my cost for water delivery has gone up 10% per unit (100 cubic feet) every year for the past seven years. Where is all that money going?

Like this comment
Posted by Dan
a resident of Danville
on Feb 11, 2014 at 8:11 am

EBMUD's forward thinking has put us in much better shape than the other districts. The Freeport agreement was an example of that. Costs associated with building the connecting pipe helped to increase our rates. Money well spent if you ask me.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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