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Press Contact: Matthai Chakko, (510) 981-7008

CITY WATER USE DECLINES DURING DROUGHT

Berkeley, California (Monday, May 04, 2015) - The City of Berkeley slashed water use last year by 26% after scaling back irrigation, fixing leaks and using more water efficient fixtures - steps also recommended for businesses and residents.

These steps will not only help Berkeley comply with the historic water reduction mandates imposed by the governor, they better position the City to more sustainably use water long-term. It is critical for residents, businesses and property owners to better conserve water as City operations only account for 2 percent of Berkeley's water use.

With California in the fourth year of a historic drought, the City will be taking other steps to comply with the 20% water reduction edict imposed by the East Bay Municipal Utility District, which serves Berkeley and a surrounding portion of the East Bay. This year, the City has stopped watering medians. Landscape watering has been reduced to two days a week. Grass will be browner.

The City is also minimizing vehicle washing, exploring the use of reclaimed water for irrigation and street cleaning, and researching options for converting certain landscapes to more drought-tolerant ground cover.

State and regional water restrictions also apply to residents and businesses. Water use throughout Berkeley has declined by 15% since 2000. However, between 2010 and 2013, water consumption in all of Berkeley increased by 7%, largely driven by private residences. It's common for some to increase watering during early drought years to make up for the lack of rain.

Many resources can help. The City developed guides for using graywater and rainwater to water your plants, tips for replacing existing faucets, toilets, and showerheads with water-conserving plumbing fixtures. EBMUD provides a range of tips and incentives: http://www.ebmud.com/water-and-wastewater/water-conservation/residential-services-and-rebates. The Berkeley Climate Action Coalition has a Water Working Group and is sponsoring a Laundry-to-Landscape Graywater Workshop with the Ecology Center on May 16.   Check with EBMUD.com or the CityofBerkeley.info/drought for more updates.

The City formed a multi-departmental drought-response working group to identify additional water-saving opportunities and to regularly report on municipal water consumption trends. The working group provided City Council with an update on water conservation efforts on April 28, 2015. The group is also developing a drought response webpage to help community members access water-saving resources and the latest consumption trends. The City also encourages the public to report any leaks on City property by calling 311.  

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