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Berkeley Firefighters Spray 100-Foot Geysers Of Water Over Street Despite Drought Water Restrictions

BERKELEY (CBS SF) -- As Berkeley residents are asked to keep buckets in their showers to reclaim grey water during the drought, Berkeley firefighters seem to be sending another message with 100-foot high geysers of water in a farewell salute to outgoing police department Capt. Erik Upson.

Local news site Berkeleyside confirmed the outpouring of support and outpouring of water at 6 p.m. Friday along Martin Luther King Jr. Way was to celebrate Upson's 17 years of service as he leaves to run the Benicia police department.

Berkeley is an East Bay Municipal Utility District city, with all water customers asked to cut their supplies by at least 20 percent. EBMUD declared a Stage 4 critical drought condition last year.

Michael Roberts shared this photo of the water usage via Berkeleyside on Facebook:

About 6 pm on MLK near Center. We might want to reconsider this type of behavior during the drought.

Posted by Michael Roberts on Friday, April 17, 2015

Among the water use rules adopted by EBMUD covering Berkeley are:

  • No watering of ornamental turf on public street medians allowed.
  • No washing of driveways and sidewalks; except as needed for health and safety.
  • Use only hoses with shutoff nozzles to wash vehicles.

The water conservation rules affect "all customers" but it's not clear if firefighters tap into the same supplies.

The fire department was not available for comment Tuesday morning, but the public is reacting with strong opinions on both sides.

Linda Carolson writes to saying, "I am sorry, but I don't see what the big deal is. They momentarily shot a stream of water into the air? ... Careless drivers are shearing off fire hydrants every week and wasting thousands of gallons of water and that isn't making the news. Capt. Upson gave 17 years of service and deserved the tribute."

On CBS SF's Facebook page, though Adrienne Louie writes, "They need to be fined because everyone in this state participates in saving water."

Another person wondered why not just use some confetti.


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