Drought Update

Drought Update
Nearly all of EBMUD's water supply originates in the Mokelumne River watershed.

In the second driest year ever,
EBMUD asks the East Bay to stretch
its water supplies - and taps the Sacramento River for the first time.


California's Emergency Water Conservation Regulations

To protect California's limited water supplies, the state adopted new restrictions to limit outdoor water use and waste. EBMUD fully supports the state's actions and will be implementing these restrictions in our service area, where residential customers typically use 40 percent of their water outdoors.  

We remind East Bay residents and businesses that water is too precious to waste. Starting in August, all EBMUD customers will be expected to:

  • Water outdoors in a way that prevents runoff in gutters, patios, walkways, driveways or streets. EBMUD recommends limiting the frequency of irrigation.
  • Use a hose with a shut-off nozzle if you wash your vehicle at home.
  • Use only recirculated, and preferably recycled water in fountains.
  • Refrain from using potable water to wash sidewalks and driveways. If you must wash hard surfaces for sanitary reasons, use a hose with a shut-off nozzle.

Please cut your water use ten percent

To everyone in the East Bay who makes conservation a way of life, we thank you. We don’t have to ask for more than 10 percent conservation now because of your ongoing water efficient lifestyle.

Since February, EBMUD customers have cut back 10 percent. But as temperatures rise, so does water use. By following the mandatory measures and continuing to cut back your water use you stretch our existing supplies in case there isn’t enough rain and snow next winter to replenish our reservoirs.

How to cut ten percent

  • Slow your flow. Use our WaterSmart Home Survey Kit to evaluate your home’s water use and find leaks and inefficient fixtures.
  • Find and fix leaks. Toilet and irrigation systems contain some of the biggest and sneakiest leaks.
  • Watch your watering. Summer water use can double or triple. The best way to save water in the summer is to cut back outdoor watering. When you turn on your irrigation system, look for signs of leaks, overspray and run-off. Remember your lawn needs water only two days a week, and shrubs and trees only one day this time of year.
  • Upgrade appliances and plumbing fixtures to more water efficient models. EBMUD currently offers water conservation rebates to customers for toilets and washing machines.
  • Convert your thirsty lawn to a sustainable landscape and upgrade your irrigation equipment to efficient drip systems and self-adjusting controllers. Rebates are available for single- and multi-family residences and commercial customers.

Visit the WaterSmart Center for more tips to guide all customers in conserving precious water and fixing water-wasting leaks.

Drought history: how did we get here?

In 1976-77, East Bay residents and the East Bay economy felt the pain of severe mandatory water rationing. To prevent such hardship from occurring again, EBMUD invested for more than three decades in increasing available water supplies and making conservation a way of life in the East Bay.

Today, the East Bay is better prepared to cope with a severe drought than it has ever been.

Over the past 10 years, customers have reduced their water use by 20 percent. Additionally, EBMUD has invested nearly $1 billion in the past decade on additional water supplies, recycled water projects and conservation programs. Today, thanks to ratepayer investment and customer conservation, EBMUD can handle short-term droughts better than in previous droughts.

EBMUD monitors precipitation and reservoir levels daily. As of July 18, EBMUD had 436,120 acre feet of water stored in all its reservoirs combined. That is 57 percent full or 68 percent of average. Reduced runoff from last winter's storms means EBMUD reservoirs did not refill this year.

What’s next?

The Board of Directors regular meeting on August 12 will include a public hearing to consider declaring a water shortage emergency and adopting changes to our regulations to implement the state’s new mandatory outdoor water use restrictions.

More cutbacks, mandatory rationing, drought rates and surcharges for the purchase of additional water supplies may be needed to cope with serious, prolonged drought.

EBMUD promises that if drought rates and allocations are put in place to enforce mandatory rationing, customer allocations will not be based on use during this voluntary cutback period. 

Buying, treating and delivering drought year water supplies from the Sacramento River adds costs, but this summer EBMUD was able to absorb the cost and not add a drought surcharge to customer bills. However, if additional water is needed again, a 14 percent supplemental supply surcharge may be applied to flow charges – resulting in a temporary average increase of $6 for the average customer.

Board Briefings

The documents below are PDF files which can be viewed and printed with Adobe Acrobat Reader, a free software utility.

Fact Sheets