EBMUD Board votes to enact new drought surcharges and penalties

OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) -- The East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD) Board of Directors on Tuesday made good on their promise to make the hard decisions called for by the current extreme drought conditions. 

East Bay MUD gets a lot of its water from snow melt coming down the once plentiful Mokelumne River out of the Sierra Mountains, but the last few years have been a disaster.

"The top driest three-year period in the Mokelumne watershed is 2013 to 2015. The top four-year, dry year period on the Mokelumne watershed is 2012 to 2015," said Eileen White, EBMUD's Operations Manager.

So, effective July 1st, customer's bill will have a 25 percent surcharge, meaning the average bill of $48.60 will go to $60.25. Customers will additionally have cut their use by 20 percent instead of the current 15 percent.

Since the average household uses 246 gallons a day, a cut of 20 more gallons a day is needed because the reservoirs are severely depleted.

"Our storage has continued to drop in 2012, 2013, 2014 and this year," explained White.

Water hogs should beware; if your household exceeds 984 gallons a day, you will be charged at much higher rates through water hog penalties and stiff fines. Those who persist in overuse can expect flow restriction and even outright water cutoffs.

The Board reserved the right to enact more restrictions if customers don't meet these goals.

The only way the rate increases and the surcharges can be reversed now is if more than half of the 400,000 rate payers write in and object to it. Otherwise those increases are in place.