East Bay MUD admits water wasters list had errors

It turns out that some East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD) customers, labeled as water wasters, have been victims of miscalculations and errors.

California law requires that utilities release such information if requested through the Public Records Act, but in the case of some accused East Bay MUD water wasters, that information was a bit flawed, which has cause some folks much unearned embarrassment.

When EBMUD released the list of excessive water users, the use was based on a two-month billing cycle, but due to meter reading problems, some of those on the list had only estimated bills or were billed over a period of 120 days making their real use half of what EBMUD reported.

"We apologize to those customers that had those longer billing cycles," says Sherri Hong an EBMUD executive.

The retired woman who lives in this Orinda home told me that she was embarrassed and dismayed and later angry because she simply knew she wasn't using that much water.

We also put that question to random EBMUD users: How would they feel of they were in that situation?.

"I'd really be upset obviously. I really hope East Bay MUD steps up and really admits their mistakes and publishes it possibly as strongly as they published the original list to begin with," says Maggie Reeves, an EBMUD customer.

"I would have been very embarrassed by it and I think that people in general in the population can be very hurtful and I hope that none of these people have been harmed," says David Kirk, another EBMUD customer.

"We sent letters to customers whose use was already close to or subject to the excessive use ordinance so that we could provide a warning to them," says Hong.

EBMUD vows to make changes so that future lists will be totally accurate.

"In general, I've been a big fan of those lists and I do think they've had a positive impact on the water use in general in our area," says EBMUD customer Maggie Reeves.

EBMUD says, even if it were based on a standard 60 day billing period, the overwhelming majority of water waters would still be over the thousand gallons a day maximum limit.