EBMUD board approves drought measures, increased restrictions

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2014, file photo, morning traffic makes its way toward downtown Los Angeles along the Hollywood Freeway, past an electronic sign warning of severe drought. Recent storms have eased California's decade-long drought somewhat, but state officials are worried that the rain will give people an excuse to abandon their already paltry conservation efforts. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

OAKLAND (KRON) — As expected, East Bay Municipal Utility District’s 1.3 million customers are in for some drastic water restrictions and increased penalties unless they get on board with water conservation.

On Tuesday, the EBMUD board approved several measures and declared a stage 4 drought emergency. They also increased conservation targets from 15% to 20%.

The problem is, those who live in the East Bay aren’t anywhere near those targets.

“Our customers have not given it to us this year, so far we have only gotten 6%, so we really need to step up our game in terms of conservation,” said EBMUD spokesperson Nelsy Rodriguez.

The board is set to adopt outdoor watering restrictions. The limit for outdoor watering is already limited to 2 days a week, but now the hours between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. will be off limits.

“That will help the water continue its natural cycle and absorb into the ground rather than being evaporated,” said Rodriguez.

The board has also voted to buy about 11 billion gallons of Sacramento River water from the federal government that will service about 123,000 homes a year. East Bay users will pay for it through a monthly drought surcharge expected to be approved in June.

According to Rodriguez, if the drought rates are approved, the average customer will see about a $12 increase to their water bill. Those that use more will see a steep increase.

“The excessive use customers could see their bill go up by more than a $100 a month,” said Rodriguez.

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