Fremont-based water district urges conservation, offers water-saving program as drought persists

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.

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.

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Chris DeBenedetti