Water surcharge, excessive use penalties on the table for EBMUD customers

Sprinklers spray water on a lawn in Palm Springs on Sept. 21, 2021. Taya Gray/The Desert Sun via Reuters

Despite the recent rain, the East Bay’s main provider of drinking water may act next week to curb water usage, officials with the East Bay Municipal Utility District said Thursday.

On April 26, EBMUD board members will decide whether to elevate the utility’s response to the drought and impose a surcharge on all customers to pay for more water and other costs associated with the drought. Board members will also consider reinstating an ordinance that penalizes people for excessive water use.

The potential actions follow a winter of low precipitation and a bleak state snow survey.

The district’s reservoirs will likely fail to refill as the snow melts in the Sierra Nevada this spring, EBMUD officials said. Reservoirs are currently 71 percent full and EBMUD officials are concerned about next year, too.

A decision Tuesday would elevate the drought emergency to Stage 2 of the utility’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan. Last April, EMBUD officials asked customers to cut water use by 10 percent and enacted a plan to draw upon additional supplies of water.

Tuesday’s meeting starts at 1:15 p.m. and can be watched at www.ebmud.com/boardmeeting. Customers, residents and visitors can also attend the meeting in person at 375 11th St. in Oakland. Attendees will be required to complete a COVID-19 symptoms checklist and wear a facial covering.

On Wednesday, EBMUD will hold a panel discussion at 6 p.m. to discuss the drought action plan. People who want to attend can register at www.ebmud.com/waterwednesday.

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