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Office of Energy & Sustainable Development (OESD)
Office of Energy & Sustainable Development (OESD)

Drought Response

California experienced a record-breaking four-year drought from 2012-2016. Although last year Northern California experienced near average rainfall, one normal winter does not solve several years of serious drought and 60% of the state remains in a drought. And because droughts are inevitable in California, water conservation must become a way of life. The Governor’s Water Action Plan—a five-year roadmap to water resource resilience, reliability and ecosystem restoration— builds on the previous temporary statewide emergency water restrictions to establish longer-term water conservation measures.

drought graphSaving Water in City Facilities:   

The City of Berkeley has cut its water use by 26% since 2013 by reducing irrigation of medians and parks, fixing leaks, and improving water efficiency in City facilities. The City is also minimizing vehicle washing, exploring opportunities to utilize non-potable water for irrigation and street cleaning purposes, converting certain landscapes to more drought-tolerant ground cover, and upgrading to smart irrigation systems. The reductions will result in browning of some public landscapes, such as medians. However, the City will maintain the health of priority plantings, including turf at sports fields and younger more vulnerable trees. 

The Civic Center and the adjacent Martin Luther King Jr. Park as well as all four of the Berkeley branch libraries recently received an award from EBMUD for being "WaterSmart" facilities. Water use in City facilities accounts for about 2% of community-wide water consumption. 

EBMUD Outdoor Watering Rules:  
The following are outdoor watering restrictions effective July 1, 2016.

  • Repair leaks
  • When watering outdoor landscapes, avoid runoff on sidewalks, streets and hardscapes.
  • No washing of driveways and sidewalks; except as needed for health and safety.
  • Use only hoses with shutoff nozzles to wash vehicles.
  • Turn off fountains or decorative water features unless the water is recirculated.
  • No irrigating ornamental turf on public street medians.
  • No watering of outdoor landscapes within 48 hours of rainfall.
  • When watering outdoor landscapes, avoid runoff on sidewalks, streets and hardscapes.

For businesses:

  • Restaurants must only offer water upon customer request.
  • Hotels must provide guests the option to reuse towels and linens.

Be Inspired to Save Water:
In Berkeley, residential consumption accounts for approximately 58% of community-wide water use. Many residents and businesses are continuing to reduce water in their homes and landscapes.

  • Wash full loads in the clothes washer and dishwasher
  • Install water-efficient showerheads and faucet aerators, available free from EBMUD
  • Check for leaks in toilets, faucets, and plumbing; repair leaks and replace, as needed
  • Save cold water while waiting for shower water to warm-up in a bucket; use this water for flushing toilets or watering trees
  • Choose drought-smart landscaping including removing your lawn and planting native or drought-tolerant plants, applying mulch and installing a greywater laundry-to-landscape system

Water Conservation Resources:


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Office of Energy & Sustainable Development (OESD), 1947 Center Street, 1st Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704
Questions or comments? Email: Phone: (510) 981-7465
(510) 981-CITY/2489 or 311 from any landline in Berkeley
TTY: (510) 981-6903