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Dougherty Valley water customers asked to cut use by 20 percent

Mandatory requirements and higher rates could follow

The Dublin San Ramon Services District Board of Directors has unanimously declared a Community Drought Emergency and has called for 20 percent voluntary conservation.

The DSRSD board has also increased the District's budget $150,000 to cover expenses related to the drought and corresponding limitations in water supply.

The Board also endorsed the District's Drought Response Action Plan, which includes cut District system-wide water usage by 20 percent compared to the same period in 2013, by reducing indoor water use by 5 percent and outdoor water use by 40 percent.

It also plans to work closely with the Zone 7 Water Agency -- the District's water wholesaler -- to cut water use, pursue actions described in the Drought Response Action Plan and convert existing potable irrigation customers to recycled water wherever possible.

"We are committed to providing safe, secure, and reliable service during normal and emergency conditions," says DSRSD Board President Georgean Vonheeder-Leopold, "This is an emergency and I'm pleased with how quickly staff pulled together our Drought Response Action Plan and how quickly they're taking action to reduce potable water use in our service area."

To set an example for our customers, the District has already turned off potable irrigation systems at all District facilities, primarily at remote pump stations. Landscaping around the District Office and the wastewater treatment plant is irrigated with recycled water. It has also switched to recycled water to clean sewers, ceased flushing hydrants except for critical areas where flushing is necessary to maintain adequate water quality.

The District is also exchanging all potable water construction meters for recycled water construction meters, expanding recycled water use to as much landscape irrigation as possible (if the drought persists, outdoor potable irrigation may be restricted or even banned), and scheduling District experts to speak to community groups about what our customers can do to minimize the drought's impact.

Sometime in late April or early May, the board will have a better understanding of the current rainy season and its impact on the state's water supply, and may be asked at that time to consider additional policy decisions.

Those considerations could include adopting a drought stage with higher rates. Stage 1 water rates have a target goal of reducing water use by 10 percent, Stage 2 has a target goal of reducing water use by 20 percent, Stage 3 has a target goal of reducing water use by 35 percent, and Stage 4 has a target goal of reducing water use by 50 percent.

If so, the board would implement affordability programs for customers who are already low-water users along with enhancing rebate programs to add additional incentives, adopt appropriate mandatory conservation requirements and enact enforcement actions for customers who fail to comply with mandatory conservation requirements.

The Board also endorsed the Association of California Water Agencies' Statewide Water Action Plan, which outlines 15 actions to improve water supply reliability, protect water rights, protect the integrity of the state's water system and promote better stewardship.

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