CCWD urges voluntary water conservation as drought worsens

CCWD urges voluntary water conservation as drought worsens

CCWD urges voluntary water conservation as drought worsens
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CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Aug. 25, 2021) — Because Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) users have heeded past voluntary water conservation efforts, no strict water rationing is foreseen despite increasing drought conditions.

Last month, the CCWD board recommended a 10 percent voluntary reduction as the panel endorsed a Stage 1 water shortage level. This is in stark contrast to other Bay Area jurisdictions, where officials wasted no time imposing strict bans on water usage.

CCWD spokesperson Jennifer Allen said there is no timeframe for if or when required rationing would be imposed.

Allen said residents have “a good track record” of complying with voluntary conservation, as evidenced by the response during the last drought several years ago. The next two-month billing cycle will be a good indicator of how well residents are doing this time around.

In addition to appealing for everyone to conserve, CCWD will use water stored in Los Vaqueros Reservoir to help meet the demand. In recent years, customers have paid to expand the reservoir – which is at more than 70 percent capacity. The Delta supplies water to the reservoir, making it unique compared to other Bay Area communities.

Changing conditions

CCWD has a contract with the federal government to receive water through the Central Valley Project. Initial allocations provided in April 2021 indicated that CCWD would have adequate water to meet all customer needs, which are 10 percent to 15 percent below demands seen prior to the 2014-’15 drought.

Since April, contractors like CCWD learned that much of the anticipated inflow to rivers from snowmelt was instead absorbed by the dry ground. In May, CCWD found out its water allocation was reduced and the district would only receive enough supply to meet public health and safety needs.

“Our customers are efficient water users and wise investors in water storage,” said Lisa M. Borba, CCWD board president. “Asking customers to voluntarily conserve about 10 percent is appropriate in a year this dry. Without the water stored in Los Vaqueros for drought supply, we would be having a different conversation.”

As part of the board’s July action related to the Water Shortage Contingency, the water waste provisions adopted during the last drought will remain in place and be enforced to prevent any wasteful use of a precious resource.

If a resident is found to be in violation, Allen said the first step is a warning notification. She noted this tends to motivate the homeowner to get back in compliance.

But if an offender repeats, the district can levy a $250 fine. Another offense can raise the fine to $500. In addition, the cost of the amount of water wasted will be tacked on.

Related story: More water customers looking for ways to conserve