Wednesday April 27, 2022

The Mercury News

Highlighting a growing trend as California’s severe drought extends into a third summer, 1.4 million East Bay residents will see new crackdowns on water use — the first since 2016 — under rules approved Tuesday.

The board of the East Bay Municipal Utility District, a government agency based in Oakland, voted 6-1 to declare a drought emergency, to seek a 10% reduction in water use from 2020 levels and to limit landscape watering to no more than three days a week in its service area, which extends from Hayward to Crockett and includes Oakland, Walnut Creek and Richmond.

The district also will consider at an upcoming meeting in May a drought surcharge of 2% to 8% on all customer bills. And Tuesday it approved a penalty for excessive water use and rules that direct the agency to make public the names of the largest residential water users later this summer. The new rules also require restaurants to serve tap water only upon request and mandate that hotels and motels offer guests the option of not washing towels and linens every day. They will take effect immediately.

“We’ve seen water use go up in the last few months because it was so dry in January, February and March,” said Andrea Pook, an East Bay MUD spokeswoman. “Normally people rely on winter rains to water their yards and outdoor gardens. They couldn’t count on it this year, so they have been watering more. We’re trying to get people back on track.”

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