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As drought conditions persist statewide, the East Bay Municipal Utility District has begun tapping into water from the Sacramento River to boost local supplies.

EBMUD, which delivers water to some 1.4 million people across Alameda and Contra Costa counties, typically draws from the Mokelumne River for its water supply.

The agency this week said the latest move is part of its drought response.

“We’ve planned and invested for decades to make our water supply resilient and now our plans are paying off,” EBMUD Board President Doug Linney said in a statement. “Ensuring reliable water supplies requires a diverse water supply portfolio including conservation, recycled water, and use of supplemental supplies — we’re doing it all.”

Under the plan, EBMUD will pump 35,250 acre-feet of water, or about 11 billion gallons, through the Freeport Regional Water Facility on the Sacramento River between October 2021 and February 2022.

The supplemental water will travel through EBMUD’s aqueducts to the San Pablo and Moraga creeks, and then flow into the San Pablo and Upper San Leandro Reservoirs. The water will then be stored for treatment and EBMUD’s Sobrante and Upper San Leandro Water Treatment Plans.

“We’ve planned and invested for decades to make our water supply resilient and now our plans are paying off.”

Doug Linney, EBMUD Board president

Because the supplemental water is coming from a different watershed than the typical supply, customers may notice a change in their water’s characteristics, EBMUD officials said.

“Supplemental supplies lessen the need for mandatory drought restrictions and rationing, which can take a heavy toll on customers, businesses and the Bay Area economy,” EBMUD Director of Water and Natural Resources Michael Tognolini said. “We’re grateful to our many partners and ratepayers for making this incredible investment possible.”

The cost of this year’s supplemental water is about $15 million and was funded with budgeted operations costs, according to EBMUD.

The new water year for EBMUD began Friday, with the agency reporting 437,000 acre-feet of water in total storage, which is 76 percent of average levels and 57 percent of capacity. The water supplies remain slightly higher than projected because customers have heeded conservation recommendations.

Back in April, the agency asked customers to voluntarily cut back water usage by 10 percent due to the drought. Since July, EBMUD customers have conserved almost 8 percent compared to the same time last year, EBMUD officials said.