Water restrictions take effect in Contra Costa County

New mandatory water cutbacks began for customers Thursday in the Contra Costa Water District, even as the late April storm brought rain showers that have been sorely missed for most of the winter.

The Contra Costa Water District Board voted the day before to move into Stage 2 of the water shortage plan, in accordance with Governor Gavin Newsom's executive order that districts increase conservation measures by late May. (ccwater.com)

"We are asking for the 15% reduction this year compared to the 2020 water use. And we chose 2020 as the baseline water year to not to penalize the people who did meet our voluntary ask for conservation in 2021," said Oliver Symonds, the Contra Costa Water District spokesman.

The district says the mandatory reductions are critical to keep demand in line with short supplies and more measures could be coming soon.

"In the coming months, our board is going to be considering a 15% surcharge as part of our drought management program," said Symonds, adding the proposal also calls for rebates for households that already do economize and use 200 gallons or less.

"I think everyone could definitely find something to cut back in," said Jessica Muldau of Pleasant Hill .

Some customers say they already are trying to do their part, reducing irrigation outdoors and using less water indoors for laundry, dishes and showers.

"I usually try to take them faster. Short showers. Mmmhmm," said Braden Von Muldau, a Pleasant Hill Fifth Grader.

Others say after years of drought and cutting back on water use, though, there isn't much more they can reduce.

"We're doing everything we possibly can and I don't know how we can do more. Especially with a family of four," said Sarah Tymo of Pleasant Hill, "we relandscaped, energy efficient appliances, teaching the kids the right thing.

Contra Costa Water District staff say most water comes down the Contra Costa Canal from Lake Shasta which is less than 40% full right now.

"Thanks to the district's 2012 infrastructure expnasion, they should be able to meet demand if people conserve.

"Our customers wisely invested in Los Vaqueros reservoir back in 2012 to expand it and add extra supply," said Symonds,  "So that is really paying off."

Many other Bay Area water districts could be following Contra Costa in complying with the Governor's call to conserve.

"EBMUD reservoirs are 71% full right now," said Andrea Pook, an EBMUD spokeswoman, "EBMUD does not expect its reservoirs to refill this year."

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Pook says East Bay MUD's Board will meet next Tuesday to consider Stage 2 drought measures.

"It could include mandatory vs voluntary, could include surcharge .to help pay for water supplies," said Pook.

East Bay MUD's Board is expected to vote on Tuesday, April 26 to determine whether to imposed cutbacks.

Contra Costa Water District's Board plans to hold a meeting June 15 to discuss whether to imposed temporary drought surcharges.

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at jana.katsuyama@fox.com and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or ktvu.com.