In a 4-0 vote Tuesday, the Pleasanton City Council suspended the billing penalty component of the city's emergency drought mandate for a period of 90 days.
The 90-day suspension will allow time to consider the condition of the reservoir levels and snowpack in the State Water Project.
Daniel Smith, Operation Services Director and Pleasanton's water czar, told council members that "we're starting to see some favorable changes, especially in Lake Oroville, where we get much of our water."
The rains in December raised the reservoir's level, and the Sierra snowpack is now at 50% of normal, a marked increase from the 20% level at this time last year.
Also, the state has increased its projected allocation for Pleasanton in the coming months to 15% of normal, up from zero to 10% a year ago.
"So we are in a better position than we were last year and my recommendation is to suspend the penalties for now," Smith said.
"But I would still urged the public to conserve," he added. "At this time, the projections are all conjecture based on participation we hope to have as we go forward," he added.
"We are in a wait-and-see mode right now regarding the final amount of rainfall and snowpack that we get for the season," Smith said. "It's important for our water users to understand that emergency drought measures could go back into effect prior to April if we don't have enough measurable rain and snow by then."
The water billing penalty implemented last May was based on a mandatory 25% reduction in water use over what those same customers used in the same billing period in 2013. If mandated reduction is started again, 2015 billings will also require a 25% cutback based on 2013 billings.
Since May, water users in the city have collectively reduced consumption of potable water by 27.8%.
"We saved 1.6 billion gallons of water in 2014," Smith said. "Meters serving the city's needs showed a reduction of 45.2%, almost double what we asked for."
The topic will come before the City Council for review again at its April 21.
Until then, Smith pointed out that state water restrictions remain in effect until at least April 15. Those measures include a 20% voluntary water reduction over the 2013 consumption, irrigation only between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., no washing down of driveways or hard surfaces, and the use of covers on swimming pools.