Skip to content

EBMUD declares stage 4 drought and takes steps to curb water use

on May 11, 2015

This year is the driest in recorded history in California. This has forced the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) to declare a stage 4 drought, the highest stage ever announced in the area, although even higher stages can apply if the drought gets worse. EBMUD is asking East Bay citizens to cut down their water usage.

Water is a vital resource to survive. But most of the water on Earth is salt water and not directly usable for humans. Only about 2.5 percent of the water on our planet is fresh water. Furthermore, about 70 percent of that is stored in Antarctica and Greenland in the form of ice caps, permanent snow and glaciers.

California has suffered from a drought over the last five years, and now the dry years are causing a dramatic problem for the water supply in the Bay Area. Oakland receives its water mainly from the Mokelumne and the Sacramento Rivers, which were not sufficiently fed by the yearly snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Ranger Joe Scornaienchi, who works for EBMUD, called last year’s snow “the lowest snow pack we ever had […] That is what we need to get us through the summer.”

EBMUD takes care of the Bay Area’s water pipes and infrastructure, which transport water to private households. According to EBMUD, rates for fresh water could increase by 25 percent on June 9. In April, California’s governor Jerry Brown signed an executive order requiring the State Water Resources Control Board to reduce the usage of drinkable urban water by 25 percent throughout the state.

 EMBUD is recommending the following restrictions for Bay Area water residents:

  • Water your lawn a maximum of twice per week on non-consecutive days.
  • Only water your lawn after dusk and before dawn to reduce evaporation.
  • Avoid water runoff.
  • Hoses need an automatic shut-off nozzle.
  • Do not water your drive way or sidewalks

EBMUD public information officer Nelsy Rodriguez and Ranger Joe Scornaienchi explain the consequences of the drought for East Bay residents in the video above.


  1. Ben on July 26, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    Note that all the above recommendations are what we should be doing every year, not just during a drought. For example, watering during the heat of the day only leads to evaporation and doesn’t help the plants any. So this is just common sense.

    Better ideas:

    Get rid of the lawn and install succulents or other drought resistant plants

    Shower with a bucket and dump the bucket in the toilet to flush it when you need to. This way you can turn off the water to the toilet completely.

    Install a graywater system to recycle bathwater for your garden so you never need to turn on a hose.

Oakland North welcomes comments from our readers, but we ask users to keep all discussion civil and on-topic. Comments post automatically without review from our staff, but we reserve the right to delete material that is libelous, a personal attack, or spam. We request that commenters consistently use the same login name. Comments from the same user posted under multiple aliases may be deleted. Oakland North assumes no liability for comments posted to the site and no endorsement is implied; commenters are solely responsible for their own content.

Photo by Basil D Soufi
Oakland North

Oakland North is an online news service produced by students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and covering Oakland, California. Our goals are to improve local coverage, innovate with digital media, and listen to you–about the issues that concern you and the reporting you’d like to see in your community. Please send news tips to:

Latest Posts

Scroll To Top