Drought response: East Bay utility district draws water from Sacramento River



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By Bay City News Service – As drought conditions persist statewide, officials in the East Bay Utilities District said Monday the agency had started tapping water from the Sacramento River to increase local supplies.

EBMUD, which provides water to some 1.4 million people in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, generally taps into the Mokelumne River for its water supply.

The agency said the latest move was part of its response to the drought.

“We have planned and invested for decades to make our water supply resilient and now our plans are paying off,” EBMUD Board Chairman Doug Linney said in a statement. “Ensuring a reliable water supply requires a diverse water supply portfolio, including conservation, recycled water and the use of additional supplies – we do it all.

As part of the plan, EBMUD will pump 35,250 acre-feet of water, or approximately 11 billion gallons, through the Freeport Regional Water Facility on the Sacramento River between October 2021 and February 2022.

The additional water will flow through the EBMUD aqueducts to the San Pablo and Moraga streams, then flow into the San Pablo and Upper San Leandro reservoirs. The water will then be stored for treatment and EBMUD’s Sobrante and Upper San Leandro water treatment plans.

Since the additional water comes from a different watershed than the typical supply, customers may notice a change in the characteristics of their water, EBMUD officials said.

“The additional supplies reduce the need for mandatory restrictions and rationing in times of drought, which can have serious consequences for customers, businesses and the economy of the Bay Area,” EBMUD Director of Water and of nature

Resources Michael Tognolini said. “We are grateful to our many partners and taxpayers for making this incredible investment possible.

The cost of the additional water this year is around $ 15 million and was funded from budgeted operating costs, according to EBMUD.

The new water year for EBMUD began on Friday, with the agency reporting 437,000 acre-feet of water in total storage, which is 76 percent of average levels and 57 percent of capacity. Water reserves remain slightly higher than forecast as customers have taken the lead in conservation recommendations.

In April, the agency asked customers to voluntarily reduce their water use by ten percent due to the drought. Since July, EBMUD customers have retained nearly 8% of their consumption compared to the same period last year, EBMUD officials said.

Copyright © 2021 by Bay City News, Inc.

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