One of the East Bay’s largest water districts has announced it will end several drought-related restrictions, including a surcharge intended to encourage water conservation.

At its April 5 meeting, the Contra Costa Water District board voted to end most water-use prohibitions approved in April 2022 and to drop the surcharge that went into effect that July.

“We are in a much different situation as compared to April 2022 and accordingly, we have lifted several water use restrictions and ended the temporary drought surcharge,” CCWD board president Ernesto Avila said.

“At the same time, we encourage customers to continue efforts to use water efficiently as we adapt to the ever evolving water supply conditions,” Avila said in a news release Thursday.

“We’ve had an amazing year of a lot of rain and snow coming in. It’s a lot of change pretty quickly.”

Jennifer Allen, CCWD spokesperson

The surcharge of 79 cents per 748 gallons of water, which amounted to a 15 percent increase on household water bills, will sunset at the end of April. A typical household uses about 260 gallons per day.

While it was in effect, the surcharge was rebated to households that used less than 200 gallons per day.

Some of the restrictions that are ending include the requirement that restaurants only serve water on request, that hotels only wash towels and linens on request, that construction sites use only non-potable water for dust control and that new irrigation had to be drip or micro-spray.

No longer will restaurants be barred from automatically serving water to their customers in areas covered by the Contra Costa Water District — one of the prohibitions that has been lifted along with other conservation rules imposed last year during the drought. (Image via Freepik)

CCWD’s announcement comes on the heels of a historically wet winter and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March 24 decision to end many of the state’s two-year-old emergency drought rules.

Not all of CCWD’s water conservation regulations have ended, however.

People are still required to avoid excessive runoff while watering their yards, are prohibited from watering during and within 48 hours of measurable rainfall, from hosing down driveways, patios and sidewalks unless necessary for health and safety reasons, and from using a hose to wash vehicles unless it is fitted with a nozzle that can be shut off.

The district’s rule against watering between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. is still in effect, as well.

Also on Thursday, the district, which serves about 500,000 customers in East and Central Contra Costa County, announced that it will receive 100 percent of the water it requested from the federal Central Valley Project, from which it pulls the vast majority of its water.

“We’ve had an amazing year of a lot of rain and snow coming in,” said district spokesperson Jennifer Allen. “It’s a lot of change pretty quickly.”

CCWD still offers resources and rebates to encourage water use efficiency, which can be found at its website.

Kiley Russell, Bay City News

Kiley Russell writes primarily for Local News Matters on issues related to equity and the environment. A Bay Area native, he has lived most of his life in Oakland. He studied journalism at San Francisco State University, worked for the Associated Press and the former Contra Costa Times, among other outlets. He has covered everything from state legislatures, local governments, federal and state courts, crime, growth and development, political campaigns of various stripes, wildfires and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.