Continued drought conditions prompt unprecedented action locally and statewide; affects Antioch; Board to consider temporary pricing adjustment, $500 fines
On April 15, the Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) Board of Directors unanimously approved an update to their existing drought program to now require 25 percent water use conservation and implement additional prohibitions deemed wasteful during drought times. This update responds to the Governor’s order announced on April 1 mandating a 25 percent reduction in water use statewide; this statewide mandate on water conservation is a first in California.
While California is experiencing serious continued drought conditions, local agencies are putting together updated programs to encourage conservation. The CCWD Board of Directors approved updates to their program requiring 25 percent conservation and implementing additional prohibitions on wasteful water use during a drought – such as limiting outdoor irrigation to no more than twice a week.
“The CCWD restrictions do effect us as we are buying all of our water from CCWD for the rest of the year and, if no rain/snow until the water quality in the river allows us to pump again,” said City of Antioch Public Works Director/City Engineer Ron Bernal. “This year we anticipate purchasing 95% of our water from CCWD.”
When asked if that is the reason for the city’s proposed increase in water rates, Bernal responded, “That’s part of the reason. Buying water from CCWD at a cost of $10 [million per] year as opposed to pumping from the river creates a significant cost to the program.”
At a public hearing on June 3, the CCWD Board will consider a temporary pricing adjustment on the unit cost of water, a fine for violations of the prohibitions, and adjusting the baseline to 2013 water use -all in compliance with the state regulations. As proposed, the temporary pricing adjustment would only apply to households using over 200 gallons per day and would end once the emergency order is lifted.
According to the CCWD website, “Violators could be subject to fines of up to $500 and suspension of water service subject to board approval.”
Beyond local conservation programs, the state is taking action to implement projects intended to encourage conservation. The Save Our Water campaign is being broadcast statewide.
In an effort to protect water quality in the Delta for water users and fish, the state is moving forward with a rock barrier that would physically help deter sea water intrusion into the southern part of the Delta. Why should CCWD care about this barrier? It all comes down to water quality. CCWD’s water intakes are in the Delta, and salinity intrusion from the Bay is an issue for water quality. With drought conditions, less fresh water is available to flow through the Delta. While this temporary barrier could cause temporary inconveniences for those using those waterways, CCWD supports the decision to install the barrier as the water quality implications could have longer term impacts on Delta water users, fish, the environment, etc… The last time the state did this was during the 1977 drought.
All said, this drought is serious and agencies are implementing actions that are necessary to protect residents and the environment. Some are unprecedented, but so are the drought conditions statewide.
The Contra Costa Water District is governed by five elected Directors, each representing a division of approximately 110,000 people. The Board of Directors normally meet in regular sessions on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. Meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room at the Contra Costa Water District Office, 1331 Concord Ave. in Concord.
For more information visit www.ccwater.com/drought2015.asp.