By: Richard Harris, Manager of Water Conservation at East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD)    

California is in year four of the drought and this heightened emergency shows no end in sight. Recently, East Bay Municipal Utility District declared a critical water shortage. As a community we must collectively use 20 percent less water this year than we did in 2013. It’s a lot to expect, but since we don’t know how dry next winter will be, we must save as much as we can now.

EBMUD counts on efficient water use by customers as we plan for water supplies. Conservation, plus water recycling and purchasing extra water supplies are all needed to meet the East Bay’s need for water.

Our conservation goals are achievable if everyone follows outdoor watering restrictions. We’re all part of the solution and everyone will need to step up during this drought.

The most important restrictions: customers may not water their landscapes more than two non-consecutive days per week before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m. Runoff is not permitted. This is important as we head into summer, when outdoor water use can double or triple.

For residents and businesses who already conserve, we thank you. Many customers have made some of the recommended water use reductions and if the idea of cutting back your water use further makes your head spin, you’ve come to the right place. We offer the tools to help.

Take stock of your indoor water use. We ask for all customers to strive for 35 gallons inside the home. 

If you are using 40-45 gallons, you are an efficient customer. If you are using 35 gallons or less, you are a super saver and we thank you for your tremendous efforts to conserve water.

If you have room to save, here’s how you can drive down your water use:

Do the math. With our home water use calculator you’ll be surprised by how much water you actually use each day and where there are easy steps you can take to reduce your use even further.

Find and fix leaks. Uncover those sneaky leaks and water-wasting fixtures with our free WaterSmart Home Survey Kit.

Mulch much? Called a gardener’s best friend, mulch helps soil retain moisture, stifles weeds and beautifies your garden. What else could you want? How about mulch coupons offered by East Bay nurseries?

Goodbye lawn, hello rebate. Make the shift to a less thirsty landscape or upgrade to high-efficiency irrigation equipment and qualify for a rebate.

Spot water with recycled water. If you need to spot water plants, consider picking up free drought emergency recycled water from one of our partner agencies: Central Contra Costa Sanitary District and Dublin San Ramon Services District.

Finally, have you seen water waste in the community? Report water waste here. Let us know and an EBMUD representative will follow up.

EBMUD has been preparing for a critical drought since 1977. Our efforts thus far have put us in a better position in comparison with many California agencies and we are making contingency plans now in case we face more dry years. Together, with our customers, EBMUD is doing what’s necessary to ensure sufficient water supplies for next year. 

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. For guidelines, see:

For more information on posting to Community Voices, see The word on Oakland Local’s Community Voices posts.

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