State water officials release required drought usage cutbacks

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU and wires) -- State officials Monday ordered local communities and water suppliers to enforce usage reductions of up to 36 percent as California's continued to battle its historic drought.

For many Bay Area residents already cutting back on their water use the reductions will not force much of a hardship.

In San Francisco, for example, water users have saved 1.65 billion gallons of water when their water use for the first half of 2013 is compared to the same time period in 2014/2015.

The state ordered reduction for San Franciscans is eight percent.

KTVU went to three other water agencies to see what the new restrictions means for customers and the water agencies themselves.

Each California water agency has been assigned a make it or break it reduction based on its own success in getting customers to use less than they did two years ago.

The state's overall goal is a 25 percent cut in use.

Water agencies is looking more closely at your water meter as the state's water cops, with ticket book in hand, look at your water provider's big water meter.

"The state has made all water agencies across California accountable, including East Bay MUD," said East Bay Municipal Utilities District spokeswoman Abby Figueroa.

"They will be tracking to make sure that we're meeting our conservation goals that they laid out," said Contra Costa Water District spokeswoman Jennifer Allen.

"The state has basically said they have a pretty big stick for enforcing their regulations and I think that has put people a little bit on edge and they want to make sure that they meet those regulations," added Alameda County Water District spokesman Frank Jahn.

The big stick is a $10,000 a day fine for water providers that fail to reach their mandated goal. That money would have to be passed on to the customers in the form of even higher rates or surcharges..

But there is some good news. East Bay MUD's self-imposed 25 percent reduction is higher than the state's 20 percent mandate.

"In May, Eastbay MUD customers save about a third of the water they were using two years ago. So, May had 31 percent less use than May of 2013, which is fantastic," said Eastbay MUD's Figueroa.

Alameda County Water District's self-imposed 20 percent reduction is above the state's mandated 16 percent cut that it was assigned.

"As of June 1st, our water use in the Alameda County Water District is actually 40% lower than it was during the same time in 2013," said Jahn.

On Tuesday, the state will announce the first overall savings for May.