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No More Fines For East Bay Water Wasters As Drought Eases

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- An ordinance that imposes fines on suspected East Bay water wasters as a reaction to the state's drought is being lifted, according to the East Bay Municipal Utility District.

Citing the recent wet winter that came after seasons of extreme drought, the district's Board of Directors voted unanimously today to suspend the Excessive Water Use Penalty Ordinance, effective May 3.

The ordinance was initially adopted in April 2015 by a nearly unanimous vote by the EBMUD board in order to penalize customers using more than 1,000 gallons of water each day.

Specifically, the ordinance fined single-family residential customers $2 for each unit - or 748 gallons - used after crossing over an 80-unit threshold.

EBMUD officials said the ordinance was effective in curbing excessive water use. Of the about 5,600 customers fined, around 75 percent reduced their water use to avoid another penalty, EBMUD officials reported.

Although EBMUD officials said it was not intended to be an additional disincentive, the district periodically released names of violators of the ordinance based on media requests.

A few of the wide-ranging individuals named on EBMUD's lists of violators included San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov, Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil, former Chevron executive George Kirkland and Safeway CEO Steven Burd.

There will be another two of these lists released, naming the final violators of the penalty before it is suspended, according to EBMUD.

The penalty ordinance "will remain on the books," EBMUD officials said, in the case an emergency conservation tool is needed to respond to future droughts.

© Copyright 2016 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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