Pipeline Repairs Reveal Water Legacy
Beneath local streets lies a complex network of water pipes.
Cast iron, steel and cement—although the materials vary and the dates the pipes were installed span many decades, the story below ground is the same. Our local communities could not have grown and flourished without the major infrastructure investments made by past generations of East Bay residents.
Water travels more than 90 miles from the Sierra to your faucet through aqueducts, tunnels and an underground distribution system, most of which is decades, and in some neighborhoods, a century old. The water distribution system currently serves more than 1.3 million people through more than 4,100 miles of pipeline and 170 neighborhood reservoirs.
Across the nation, leaks and breaks in aging water distribution systems are occurring with increasing frequency. As pipes age, they can be more susceptible to cracking, corroding and even bursting. EBMUD places high value on cost-effective plumbing system improvements.
In the coming years, as our infrastructure continues to age, decisions about where and how to increase investments in water and wastewater systems will shape our generation's legacy.
Managing Our Infrastructure
Major expansions of the East Bay's distribution system took place from the 1930s through 1960s, and EBMUD continues to upgrade and reinforce the water system. Pipes, pumps and other infrastructure are built to last. Still, the East Bay's vast water distribution infrastructure is aging, and an older system means more work to make sure dependable water supplies arrive at customer taps every day.
EBMUD sets priorities by evaluating the performance and reliability of existing facilities, the cost of rehabilitation versus replacement, the impacts of downtime, and how specific facilities will be used in the future. Projects are planned to minimize inconveniences to nearby homes and businesses (and their customers) and are designed to maintain high levels of system reliability with the least cost for customers.
In 2010, 77¢ of every rate dollar EBMUD collected for water service went to store, treat and deliver water, day-to-day system maintenance for future improvements, and repay bonds sold to pay for long-term investments in infrastructure. These costs are going up with increased costs for materials, higher labor costs for crews working in congested underground environments, and limitations on work hours to accommodate car traffic.