- Feb 12:
- Contra Costa Times editorial: Water districts should impose conservation measures now
- Oakland Tribune editorial: Water districts should impose conservation measures now
- Feb 7:
- California Drought: Desperately needed rain, courtesy of "Pineapple Express" slamming into California
- Feb 6:
- Drought doesn't mean doom for your plants
- Rain soaks Bay Area, another storm coming
- California drought: Big rain headed toward Bay Area could double dismal rainfall totals
- Feb 5:
- California drought: How bad is it?
- California drought: House water bill exposes deep partisan divide
- Feb 4:
- Gov. Jerry Brown calls congressional Republican drought bill 'divisive'
- Roadshow: Caltrans watering less as drought continues
- Feb 3:
- North Bay homeowners slash water usage through creative conservation
- California drought: Biggest rainfall of 2014 soaks Bay Area
- Jan 31:
- California drought: State Water Project will deliver no water this summer
- Gov. Brown says flush less as California struggles with drought
- Drought shakes off winter for perilous early spring
- Jan 30:
- Obama pledges support amid California drought
- California wine industry reports robust 2013, but worries loom about drought
- Drizzle brings hope to thirsty California but does nothing to deter drought
- Jan 29:
- Bay Area wakes up to drizzle as light rain appears for first time in more than a month
- Zone 7 Water Agency seeks 20 percent voluntary water reduction from customers
- Jan 28:
- California drought: 17 communities could run out of water within 60 to 120 days, state says
- Jan 27:
- Water oak trees if needed, but not too much
- Rain expected this week won't put dent in the drought, forecasters say
- Gold prospectors take advantage of California drought
- California drought: Bay Area water districts start asking urban residents to conserve
- Jan 26:
- After decades of payments, EBMUD may finally use its emergency water supply
- Jan 25:
- California drought: Past dry periods have lasted more than 200 years, scientists say
- Jan 23:
- Around Dublin: Do your part now to get ahead of drought
- Jan 22:
- Drought: California is a red state, if you're talking weather
- Jan 21:
- California drought: Tips for conserving water
- Jan 18:
- Snow makers rescue big Sierra resorts as drought bakes smaller ones
- Jan 17:
- Governor Jerry Brown declares drought: Social media reaction
- Document: Gov. Jerry Brown's declaration of drought emergency
- Brown declares California drought emergency
- California drought: Three more months of dry weather likely, National Weather Service announces
- Jan 16:
- Drought declared a natural disaster in California, 10 other states
- Jan 14:
- Drought imperils California salmon, steelhead
- California drought: What's causing it?
- Jan 10:
- Despite California drought, chances for water bond are evaporating
- Jan 8:
- Timm Herdt: Learning to adapt to droughts
- Jan 3:
- Barnidge: California droughts aren't nearly as scary as they used to be
- Dec 29:
- California drought deepens as another year's rains stay away
FREMONT -- Uncertain about its traditional water sources, southern Alameda County's water district has urged residents to conserve and is offering some homeowners free plumbing service to help save.
As the state's water shortage worsens, those measures might be the beginning of a long, complex effort to manage dwindling water supplies amid California's third consecutive dry year, Alameda County Water District leaders said.
Even with some rain over the weekend, this is California's driest year since rainfall record-keeping began in the 1840s, district leaders said.
"It's uncomfortable to be an urban water agency and not be able to make better predictions about our future water supply, but that is where we are," said Walt Wadlow, the Fremont-based district's general manager.
FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2014 file photo, a visitor to Folsom Lake, Calif., walks his dog down a boat ramp that is now several hundred yards away from the waters' edge. Gov. Jerry Brown formally proclaimed California in a drought Friday Jan. 17, 2014, saying the state is in the midst of perhaps its worst dry spell in a century and the conditions are putting residents and their property in "extreme peril." ((AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File))
Some 40 percent of the district's supply comes from Alameda Creek watershed, and it buys 20 percent from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission's Hetch Hetchy water system.
The district's remaining 40 percent of water usually comes from the State Water Project, but that agency last week cut off the supply for cities and farms statewide for the first time in its nearly 54-year history. That announcement put already challenged local water suppliers on the hunt for alternative sources.
The drought has put nearly 20 rural communities, including some in Sonoma and Santa Cruz counties, at risk of going dry soon -- an alarming prospect that Alameda County Water District leaders say they are in "absolutely no" danger of facing.
"Our ratepayers have supported a diverse portfolio of water supply, so even in a really dry time like this, we have other places to turn to for water," Wadlow said.
Those sources include pumping more of the utility's groundwater, tapping reserves and swapping supplies with other water utilities, said Eric Cartwright, an aide to Wadlow.
Formed in 1914, the Alameda County Water District supplies water to 336,000 people in Fremont, Newark and Union City.
The utility has asked its customers to reduce water usage by 20 percent, encouraging them to take shorter showers, run dishwashers less often and cut back on outdoor irrigation, Cartwright said.
"The single most important thing people can do is (shut) off their sprinkler system," he said. "That is water that, if not used now, can be saved for the summer, when it'll really be needed."
The average Tri-City-area home uses 280 gallons of water per day, with about 40 percent -- 112 gallons -- used on lawns or other landscape irrigation, Cartwright said. The district also now offers homeowners who meet income requirements free repair of plumbing leaks and installation of water-efficient fixtures, such as low-flow toilets, to reduce water usage. Customers can apply by calling 510-668-4207 or going online at www.acwd.org, said Stephanie Nevins, the district's water conservation supervisor.
"The main goal is to help low-income homeowners save water," Nevins said. "We'll monitor water use before and after, so we'll know what the (program's) results are in about a year."
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.