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East Bay Water Customers Hit With Mandatory Cutbacks Because Of Drought

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Sprinklers water the lawns of a new housing development July 28, 2005 in Hesperia, California. California's demand for water will jump by 40 percent over the next 25 years according to a study released this week by the Public Policy Institute of California. Half of all the water used by inland homeowners, where growth is booming, goes to irrigating yards, compared to one third or less in the cooler coastal regions. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Sprinklers water the lawns of a new housing development. (David McNew/Getty Images)

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FREMONT (CBS SF) — In a 4-1 vote, the Alameda County Water District – which serves Fremont, Newark and Union City – voted to declare a water shortage emergency, forcing mandatory water restrictions on its 350,000 customers.

The water district is in a bind since 40 percent of its water is no longer being supplied. “We treat water that comes from the State Water Project, which is water from the Delta,” said district spokesman Frank Jahn. “They have cut off our supply this year.”

Residential and business customers will now only be allowed to water their lawns twice a week during the spring the fall and once a week during the summer. Parks, schools and golf courses would be limited to three times a week during spring and fall and twice a week during the summer.

The new restrictions, which go into effect immediately, also prevent the draining and refilling of swimming pools bans on washing sidewalks, driveways and other hard surfaces.

While some critics, who attended the public hearing on Thursday night, thought the restrictions were too harsh, others thought they were too soft.

“The simple solution, that really helps, is just cut off all watering of lawns,” one man in attendance said.

“Who gives a hoot about green lawns when we are running out of water?”

Scofflaws will at first get a warning. A second violation will prompt a visit from a water district representative and a third violation will result in a customer water being shut off and possible misdemeanor charges.

The restrictions will stay in place until the drought is over.

“We are looking for an overall 20 percent reduction in water use in order to be able to continue to meet demand,” said Jahn.

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