EBMUD considers drought declaration; residents could be asked to conserve water

The rain on Sunday helped but water agencies said it’s not nearly enough to change the drought picture in the Bay Area.

The East Bay’s largest water district, East Bay Municipal Utility District or EBMUD, may declare a stage one drought this week. It means residents may be asked to voluntarily reduce water by 10 percent.

For many people in the Bay Area, it was nice to see the rain on Sunday while it lasted.

"We definitely need rain here, it’s been very dry," said Haley Miller of Oakland.

For most of the Bay Area, the rain was sporadic, at times a drizzle, light to moderate on and off.

"It’s nice we are having rain especially in the Bay Area," said Kevin Marroquin of Albany. "We had a drought a couple of years ago."

"East Bay MUD, in our watershed we can typically look at getting 48 inches of precipitation a year and as of Friday, we were at 23 inches and a half or so," said Andrea Pook with East Bay Municipal Utility District.

The district is now considering a Stage 1 drought, which means voluntary water conservation and purchasing supplemental water from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Most of East Bay Mud’s water comes from the Sierra snowmelt.

"Drought is always costly, it's costly," said Pook.

EBMUD would draw money from its reserves so, for now, no drought surcharge for the district’s 1.4 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. The last time the district used supplemental supplies was the drought in 2015.

Last week, the governor declared a drought emergency in Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Marin County is imposing mandatory water use restrictions.

"If COVID wasn’t enough, we had the fires, we will have even more fires this time around," said Phyllis Potter of Oakland.

Potter can’t think of how she can conserve any more.

"I shut the tap off when I’m brushing my teeth, I take quick showers," said Potter.

She’s hoping others will do their part.

"I would like there to be enough water for everyone who needs it," said Potter.

EBMUD board of directors is expected to make a decision at a board meeting on Tuesday. If a stage one drought is declared, customers may be asked to conserve starting May 1. 

Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Azenith at azenith.smith@fox.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or ktvu.com.