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.