City May Already Comply With State Water Bill

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Berkeley and other East Bay cities may already be prepared to meet the requirements mandated by a new state bill signed Monday which seeks to promote water conservation by issuing water usage cuts for California cities.

Motivated by California's increasing reliance on a limited supply of groundwater due to recent droughts, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill, which calls for $11 billion to fund the improvement of water supply reliability in the state, on Nov. 9.

The bill mandates a 20 percent reduction per capita on water consumption by all California cities by 2020. It also provides funding for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta restoration and efforts to provide clean and safe drinking water.

According to Mike Hazinski, supervisor of water conservation for East Bay Municipal Utility District, EBMUD has recently adopted an integrative resource program that will ensure a more reliable water supply until 2040 for residents of the cities it manages, including Berkeley.

"I think, overall, because EBMUD serves this area, that they're more likely to fare well as the state's water supply becomes more stretched than in other parts of the state, where they haven't had such extensive water supply planning," he said. "We have a long-term management supply program to ensure an adequate water supply in the future."

The program, called Water Supply Management Program, monitors water waste, initiates educational efforts to promote water conservation awareness and encourages water conservation by offering rebates for replacing industrial utilities and irrigation systems with those that waste less water.

Hazinski said despite uncertainty about how the water usage cuts will be applied to the state, cities like Berkeley that have a history of being environmentally progressive may be more than prepared to meet the requirements.

"(Berkeley) has the Residential Energy Conservation Ordinance in place, which requires the retrofit of homes upon resale or renovation, including installation of flow reduction devices such as shower heads," he said.

Lisa Caronna, Berkeley's deputy city manager, said the city's efforts to sustain water conservation include working with EBMUD in planning for the future use of "gray water"-highly cleansed waste water-for irrigation and landscaping purposes.

"We've worked with (EBMUD) on the development of a plan and identified sites in Berkeley for places where it could potentially be implemented," she said.

Due to a combination of conservation programs and general conservation efforts of EBMUD customers, the district has cut its water usage by 26 percent since 1995, said Charles Hardy, spokesperson for EBMUD .

"We have to find out what the specifics of the legislation are before we know the impacts, but we do know our costs are high on conservation already," he said. "We have been one of the leaders of water conservation."


Contact Melody Ng at [email protected]

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