EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story included the names of the individuals in question. KRON4 made the decision to take the names out of the story.

RICHMOND, Calif. (KRON) — Water officials are cracking down on East Bay residents who used thousands of gallons of water at home daily in the midst of California’s severe drought.

Three residents who live in Richmond, Orinda, and Oakland, each used more than 2,000 gallons on average daily, according to the East Bay Municipal Utility District. The three residents were penalized with fines.

East Bay MUD said the following residents violated its Excessive Water Use Penalty Ordinance this summer in the months of July and August:

  • A Richmond resident used an average of 3,191 gallons per day.
  • An Orinda residnet used an average of 2,144 gallons per day.
  • An Oakland resident used an average of 2,269 gallons per day.

East Bay MUD said its Excessive Water Use Penalty Ordinance aims to increase conservation and protect water supplies through enforcing penalties on single-family residential customers whose water use exceeds a threshold.

For Stage 2 droughts, the threshold is 132 units per two-month billing period, or roughly 1,646 gallons per day.

In April, the East Bay MUD declared a Stage 2 drought, ordered a mandatory district-wide 10 percent water use reduction, and activated the ordinance.

Looking at Google Maps street view, the Orinda resident’s $4-million house appears to have a large lush lawn lined with manicured hedges, trees, and flowers. A woman who lives in the home told the San Francisco Chronicle that a jacuzzi may have leaked next to their backyard pool.

According to EBMUD, 2,144 gallons of water was consumed daily at this house in Orinda. (Image courtesy Google Map street view)
(Image courtesy Google Map street view)

Google Maps street views of the Richmond home and the Oakland home makes their extreme water consumption more perplexing. Both houses are small with modest dirt yards that do not appear to be irrigated.

According to EBMUD, this small house in Richmond used more than 3,000 gallons of water daily. (Image courtesy Google Maps street view)

In May and June, residents who exceeded the threshold received a warning letter. In July and August, residents who continued to exceed the threshold received a violation. Customers have 15 days after receiving a penalty on their bill to file an appeal.

“Excessive use” is defined by EBMUD as consumption of water by a single-family residential customer who exceeds 132 units in one billing cycle. One unit is 748 gallons. The ordinance establishes a penalty of $2 per unit of water used above the threshold.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District provides drinking water for 1.4 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties Water officials said lists of ordinance violators will continue to be released monthly in response to Public Records Act requests. The list will include residents whose appeals are denied.

Almost all of California is weathering either “D2 Severe,” “D3 Extreme” or “D4 Exceptional” drought conditions.

U.S. Drought Monitor Map – September 2022

In a summary of California’s rainfall last week, the U.S. Drought Monitor wrote, “Pacific weather systems dropped locally 2 or more inches of rain across parts of central and northern California. Groundwater continues low and many reservoirs were still very low to near record-low. The precipitation that fell this week did little to make up deficits that have built up over the last 5 years.”