For Immediate Release
Press Contact: Matthai Chakko, Assistant to the City Manager, (510) 981-7008

City and regional programs and policies can help households do the same

Berkeley, California (Thursday, March 06, 2014) - To minimize the impact of the drought, the City of Berkeley will use 10 percent less water this year by scaling back watering of certain parks and medians, checking for pipes leaks and exploring the use of reclaimed water for street sweeping and median watering.

The 10 percent reduction mirrors the goal set by EBMUD, which controls water distribution for much of the East Bay, including Berkeley. The City's goals are in addition to the existing community-wide water reductions in Berkeley, where water consumption has dropped by 20 percent since 2000 and 36 percent since 1975.

Reducing water waste, which residents can also do, is a priority for the City's water conservation. The City is assessing each building for leaks and looking into cost-effective fixes for some of the more aging infrastructure. One project coinciding with our conservation effort is the replacement of a cooling tower at 1947 Center Street, one of the City's largest buildings. Replacement of the tower will save at least 300,000 gallons of water per year - or more than half a gallon a minute. We encourage the public to report leaks on City property by calling 311.

Our Parks Recreation and Waterfront division has surveyed each of the 273 water meters that gauge that department's water use. The department has prioritized water use so that the most used parks, such as athletic fields, will continue to receive the water they need.

The City's Public Works Department is exploring the use of reclaimed water for various uses, such as median watering and for vactor trucks, which unclog storm drains. The department is looking into the most feasible ways to bring reclaimed water into the City. Such efforts will be easier in the future thanks to a recently announced grant given to EBMUD. The project, which will finish by 2015, will pipe reclaimed water directly into Berkeley. The impact could be substantial. Our three vactor trucks alone operate at least five days a week and each use at least 800 gallons a day. Our street sweeping trucks clean about 60 miles of trucks a year.

City policies and programs encourage community-wide water conservation, including irrigation by way of bathtub, shower and washing machine graywater. The City enforces new State standards for high efficiency plumbing fixtures for new construction and alterations, and it also encourages people to install rainwater harvesting systems, which can reduce the impact of the drought for individual households.

EBMUD also provides a variety of water conservation tips and resources at this link: The agency reports that 14 percent of household water use comes from leaks, something households can address for free with the agency's free Home Survey Kit.


City of Berkeley Climate Action Plan Water Consumption Analysis

City of Berkeley Greywater Guidelines

City of Berkeley Plumbing Fixture Replacement Guidelines (PDF)

City of Berkeley Rainwater Harvesting Guidelines

EBMUD Water Conservation Resources

EBMUD Home Survey Kit

Free home improvement services for low-income residents:
Community Energy Services Corporation:
Rebuilding Together: