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Alameda County Water District drops drought surcharge after wet winter

Sierra snowpack measurement shows above-average snow depth, water content
Sierra snowpack measurement shows above-average snow depth, water content 03:17

FREMONT – The Alameda County Water District announced Wednesday that surcharges prompted by years of drought will be dropped in April, following one of the wettest winters on record.

At a special meeting held Tuesday, the agency's Board of Directors voted unanimously to end the surcharges, which were put in place after a water shortage emergency was declared.

In March of 2022, the water district imposed a surcharge of $0.787 for every 748 gallons, or unit of water, that customers use. On March 1, the surcharge increased to $0.82 per unit of water.

"The rains have quenched our drought-stricken state, and for the first time in several years, we see California edging its way out of drought," ACWD Board President Paul Sethy said in a statement.

According to the district, the surcharges generated $11.6 million, which covers increased costs for water supply, operations and necessary capital improvements.

While the surcharges are being rolled back, officials stressed that water use restrictions remain in effect, along with prohibitions on some types of water use.

Prohibitions currently in place include draining and refilling of swimming pools, using decorative water fountains and not fixing leaks and breaks within 72 hours of discovery. Hosing off driveways and irrigation within 48 hours of rainfall of at least 0.25 inch is also prohibited.

"We look forward to easing restrictions, but we know recurring drought is a reality in California, and we encourage customers to turn some of their water-wise habits into a permanent practice," Sethy went on to say.

Officials said customer demands are 20% less than 2020, but project a "modest" 3-year rebound beginning next year. 

The Alameda County Water District serves 345,000 people in the communities of Fremont, Newark and Union City.

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