OAKLAND – To help finance additional water supplies and expenses related to the ongoing drought, the East Bay Municipal Utility District Board of Directors voted 6-1 to impose an 8 percent drought surcharge on its 1.4 million customers beginning on July 1, 2022.
The drought surcharge is the latest in a series of steps taken by EBMUD to weather a second consecutive dry year. In April 2021, after a dry winter left EBMUD reservoirs 69 percent full, the Board of Directors declared a Stage 1 drought emergency, called for voluntary 10 percent conservation District-wide, and initiated the purchase of 33,000-acre feet in supplemental supplies from the Sacramento River. Last month, a second dry winter left EBMUD reservoirs at 71 percent full. In response, the Board of Directors elevated EBMUD’s drought response from a Stage 1 to a Stage 2, mandating 10 percent conservation District-wide, tightening restrictions on outdoor water use and reinstating the Excessive Use Penalty Ordinance.
“We understand with all the challenges in the world today, drought can be an additional stress. We are taking a methodical and proven approach to address this emergency so that we can assure our customers that we will have reliable supplies if the dry weather persists,” said Board President Doug Linney. “We are making the best use of all our tools to handle drought, including purchasing water from partner agencies, increasing conservation from customers, and discouraging waste among high-volume users. These emergency actions are outside of our normal scope of work, and this drought surcharge will help us cover a portion of those costs.”
The drought surcharge will be applied to customers’ flow charges – or the volume of water used – beginning on July 1. For an average single-family home using 200 gallons of water per day, the 8 percent drought surcharge will amount to approximately 10 cents a day, $3.08 more per month ($6.16 per two-month billing cycle). The surcharge will remain in place until the drought emergency declaration is lifted. Over the next year, the surcharge is expected to recover approximately $30.8 million, which would go directly toward the estimated $64.5 million needed to manage the drought this year. The remainder of the drought expenses will be funded by reserves.
In addition to the drought surcharge, EBMUD has already implemented the following actions aimed at promoting customer conservation:
Mandated 10 percent water use reduction District-wide as compared to 2020 with plans to review progress towards achieving this goal in November.
Reinstatement of the Excessive Use Penalty Ordinance. The ordinance sets a daily household threshold of 66 cubic feet of water, or about 1,646 gallons. Households who exceed the threshold will receive one warning, and then will face fines of $2 for every 748 gallons of water above the threshold.
Updated outdoor water restrictions, including limiting outdoor watering to three times per week, prohibiting washing down sidewalks and driveways, and requiring restaurants and cafes to only provide water upon request, among other provisions.
The East Bay Municipal Utility District has a proud history of providing high-quality drinking water for 1.4 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. EBMUD’s wastewater system serves 740,000 customers and helps protect the ecosystem of San Francisco Bay. EBMUD is a not-for-profit public agency established in 1923.