'Penalty Serves As Wake-Up Call': EBMUD Releases More Names of Excessive Water Users, Includes Ex-Safeway CEO Steven Burd, Former Warriors' C Adonal Foyle - NBC Bay Area
Bay Area Drought Watch

Bay Area Drought Watch

Coverage of California's looming water problem

'Penalty Serves As Wake-Up Call': EBMUD Releases More Names of Excessive Water Users, Includes Ex-Safeway CEO Steven Burd, Former Warriors' C Adonal Foyle

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The East Bay Municipal Utility District Thursday released more names of excessive water users who are being penalized for consuming more than 1,000 gallons of water per day in a two-month billing cycle.

    This time, at 9,612 gallons of water per day, Diablo resident and entrepreneur Kumarakulasingam Suriyakumar topped the list of excessive water users. Former Safeway CEO Steven Burd and ex-NBA player/Golden State Warriors Community Ambassador Adonal Foyle also made the list.

    EBMUD spokesperson Abby Figueroa said the excessive use penalty was designed to be a "wake-up call to all those customers who are using more than 4 times what our average households use."

    "Today our reservoirs are half empty. We need to protect drinking water supplies in case this drought drags on," Figueroa said. "The good news is that most of our customers are using less than the average, most of our customers are doing the right thing, and thanks to our customers the district saw its consumption go down by a third this summer."

    The list released Thursday is a partial list, representing customers in violation who were billed from Sept. 26 to Oct. 9, 2015, the district said. Names of customers who have a pending appeal were excluded. According to the district, if their appeal is denied, those names will appear on another list.

    The customers named on Thursday's list violated the Excessive Use Policy Ordinance, which imposed fines on suspected water wasters as a reaction to the state's drought, according to EBMUD officials.

    The list was released as a result of a Public Records Act request by media organizations, including one from NBC Bay Area, following a similar EBMUD release from two weeks ago that included Billy Beane, the Oakland A's executive vice president of baseball operations. Beane, a Danville resident, had the third-highest total of water use at 5,996 gallons per day.

    This time, at 9,612 gallons of water per day, Diablo resident Kumarakulasingam Suriyakumar topped the list of excessive water users. Suriyakumar, an entrepreneur from Sri Lanka, is the co-founder and CEO of Walnut-Creek-based ARC Document Solutions.

    Below him on the list were Mike Carvin, a daily 8,764-gallon user, and Thomas Seeno, a daily 7,842-gallon user, both of whom hail from the construction industry.

    Steven Burd, who served as president and CEO of Safeway from 1992 to 2013, used 7,255 gallons of water per day in the billing cycle. Burd and Seeno are neighbors in Alamo. Carvin lives in Alamo as well. In all, 289 of the customers listed as excessive water users were residents of the small East Bay city.

    Homes in Danville, which had 254 customers on the list, came second in prevalence. A Danville resident topped the previous list of excessive water users -- George Kirkland, a former Chevron executive who used 12,579 gallons per day. He told NBC Bay Area the pipes that irrigate his vineyard had a leak.

    EBMUD spokeswoman Abby Figueroa, in an Oct. 16 news conference, said the agency expected certain East Bay cities that have large homes with big yards would have more residences facing penalties when the ordinance went into effect in July.

    The ordinance penalizes single-family residential customers who exceed 80 units — with each unit being 748 gallons — in a billing cycle. Those who exceed the cap, which translates to about 1,000 gallons of water per day, are subject to a $2 penalty for each unit over that 80-unit threshold.

    Figueroa said EBMUD's board had to draw a line with the ordinance because "when your primary supplier, Mother Nature, isn't delivering, you need to make some adjustments."

    But part of the penalty was never intended to be EBMUD exposing water wasters, she said. During the news conference, Figueroa stressed that giving the media access to information about customers who violated the ordinance was necessary under public records laws.

    "We're protective of our customers' information," she said. "We don't believe drought shaming is the way to go."

    Bay City News contributed to this story.

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