A deeply divided East Bay MUD Board of Directors voted 4-3 today to plan for 15 percent water rationing in the future, a move that lessens the need for a controversial new dam on the Mokelumne River. "It strengthens the argument that we don't need to construct" the dam, said board member Andy Katz, a staunch opponent of the dam proposal who represents Berkeley and North Oakland.
Along with Katz, board members Doug Linney, Lesa McIntosh, and Frank Mellon voted to plan for water rationing of up to 15 percent during future droughts. Board members John Coleman, Katy Foulkes, and William Patterson voted "no." All three supported a 10 percent rationing plan that would have made the dam project more likely. The 15 percent proposal will save the agency about 32 million gallons of water a day during drought years, although the board has yet to decide exactly how it will implement the proposal.
Two weeks ago, the board voted 4-2 to move forward with 10 percent rationing and a slightly smaller version of the dam project than had been originally proposed. But as the Express reported, it appeared as if the board could have passed the 15 percent rationing at the meeting, because four board members expressed support for it. But before the board voted, Mellon walked out of the meeting, saying he had a prior engagement, thereby leaving the board at a 3-3 stalemate. After environmentalists voiced disappointment about the outcome, Katz and Linney, who is the board president, decided to bring the issue back to the board for today's meeting.