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City Manager's Office
Press Contact: Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, Public Information Officer, (510) 981-7008

Total community-wide water consumption decreased 20 percent

Berkeley, California (Wednesday, March 07, 2012) - According to data provided by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), the Berkeley community reduced total water consumption 20 percent between 2000 and 2010 and nearly 40 percent since 1975. These findings are all the more relevant as the region experiences one of the driest winters in recent memory and as statewide water supplies are under increasing pressure due to a growing population and a warming climate.   

“Many factors affect a community’s water consumption,” said EBMUD’s Manager of Water Conservation, Richard Harris. “One factor is certainly that Berkeley residents are taking water efficiency and conservation seriously. Residents can save significant amounts of water and money by taking simple, low-cost steps such as fixing leaky toilets, faucets, and irrigation systems, installing water-saving showerheads, and washing full loads in the dishwasher and clothes washer.”

More water-saving tips for residents and businesses, including links to free devices and rebates, are available at EBMUD’s WaterSmart Center at www.ebmud.com/watersmart.
The combination of factors affecting the Berkeley community’s decrease in water consumption includes:

  • Residents are making water efficiency improvements through upgrades such as high-efficiency toilets and showerheads, faucet aerators, and water-efficient automatic clothes and dish washers.  They are also fixing leaks.  One out of every seven gallons of water consumption, on average, is due to leaks.
  • Residents and businesses are also reducing outdoor water usage by employing techniques such as drip irrigation, applying mulch, installing graywater and rainwater catchment systems, watering only when needed, and choosing native, drought-tolerant plants.
  • In drought years, such as the region experienced in 2008-2009, water conservation is more widespread.
  • The changing economy: Not only do residents and businesses consume less water during economic downturns, but also the local economy has shifted since the 1970s away from manufacturing, which is a relatively water-intensive market sector. 

The largest source of water consumption in Berkeley is single-family homes. Toilets, showers, sinks and clothes washers are the largest sources of water consumption in households. Notably, on average, 14 percent of residential water consumption is due to leaks.

In order to measure and report the status of progress toward Berkeley’s Climate Action Plan goals to the community, the City collects and publishes annual data measuring water consumption, building energy use, solid waste diversion, and transportation trends. These metrics enable improved, informed management of local climate action strategies.

For more information about the Berkeley community’s water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions trends as well as other statistics and resources visit www.cityofberkeley.info/climateprogress. For ideas on how to get involved in the local climate action effort, visit www.cityofberkeley.info/climate and click on “Take Action on Climate Change.”


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