Jun 11 2015

EBMUD Approves Water Rate Increases

– Despite Ever Increasing Water Rates, Few Customers Protested. –

Following its June 9 hearing, the Board of Directors of the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) unanimously approved new rates and the drought surcharge after receiving only 131 valid written protests from the 381,200 parcel customers. The 8% rate increase takes effect July 1, 2015. EBMUD water rates increased 9.75 %  beginning July 1, 2013, and increased again on July 1, 2014 by 9.5%  as increasing conservation continues to reduce revenue. EBMUD declared a Stage 4 critical drought and set a community-wide goal of 20% water use reduction, 
compared to 2013 water consumption.

At the hearing, residents spoke of their long-standing water conservation habits, expressing worry that there was no further reduction possible.

Stopwaste.org staff members Jeff Becerra and Teresa Eade strongly objected to the EBMUD rebates for replacing lawns with artificial turf at the expense of the environment. Eade detailed the deleterious effects: it off-gases, is hotter than asphalt in the summer and has to be land-filled after its limited life.

San Francisco Sierra Club Water Committee leader Sonia Diermayer, disagreed, “Rebates for replacing lawns are great! My mother and her neighbors in Lafayette have huge lawns that consume so much water.”

Glenda Dugen of Walnut Creek objects to all rebates, indicating that conservation is just common sense and we should all be doing whatever we can.

Former EBMUD Director Helen Burke supported the need for increased rates and the watershed management program that excludes bikes on District lands. She noted the very active efforts of bicycle groups to get access and referred to the many problems and expenses recorded in Marin, after opening water district lands to bicycling.

Several citizens described floods and water damage from a leaking tank of treated water in El Sobrante.

Board of Directors Vice President William Patterson, who represents most of Oakland, urged the staff, “We should go after reimbursement from the State of all the funds we pay for water they have curtailed this year.”

Director Marguerite Young, who represents Piedmont, praised her district, “A whole lot of my district customers are already low water use households.”

DirectorAndy Katz, who represents Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, El Cerrito, Kensington, and a part of Oakland, added, “We have many customers who are conservers, but we also have customers who use a lot.”

In addition to the rate increases and surcharges, those who do not conserve will be billed penalties. Read about Excessive Use penalties here.

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