West of Hills Northern Pipelines

EBMUD is planning to build about 8.5 miles of new 48-inch and 36-inch water transmission pipelines. These transmission pipelines move large amounts of water around EBMUD's service area and are different from smaller distribution pipes that directly serve your neighborhood.

The project's four major segments will ensure continued reliable water service to customers in north Oakland, Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito, Richmond, San Pablo, Pinole, Hercules, and the unincorporated communities of West Contra Costa County, including Crockett. Design and construction of each of the four large pipelines will occur separately over the course of a decade.  Preliminary construction to support the first portion of the project in Berkeley was completed on Bancroft Way in January 2018.

The project will:

  • correct existing deficiencies
  • improve operations
  • enhance system reliability
  • meet projected water demands through 2040
  • facilitate repair and replacement of aging infrastructure

EBMUD completed an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to assess the impacts of the project and identify mitigation measures. The Draft and Final EIR are available below. Each pipeline segment is noted below. You can click to see a map with the alignment for each preferred pipeline route.

Workplan and schedule

The Final EIR was certified on December 10, 2013. Construction to install a large valve on Bancroft Way was completed in January 2018. Berkeley project work to install the 48" transmission pipe along Ellsworth Street will begin in spring 2019.

Contact

Community Affairs
Phone: 510-287-7208
 
Contractors: For bid opportunities on EBMUD projects, see Business center.

Published studies and other resources

The DRAFT EIR Volumes 1 and 2 and the Response to Comments are all part of the final EIR.

Frequently asked questions

There has been a substantial amount of development in the East Bay since these transmission pipelines were built in the late 1920’s and 30’s. EBMUD needs to install additional pipes to correct existing deficiencies, meet future water demands and improve reliability of this aging infrastructure.

EBMUD identified three hydraulically equivalent alternatives for each alignment. The preferred alignment was selected based on criteria that minimized environmental impacts, conflicts with existing high risk underground utilities, life cycle costs, and maximizing the useful life of existing facilities.

Typically pipelines are installed in an open-trench. A tunneling method known as jack and bore would be needed to install pipelines that cross under the Wildcat Creek. A pipe bridge would be needed across the San Pablo Creek.

The four pipelines will be installed as two separate projects with construction schedules several years apart. Construction of the two Wildcat Pipelines in Berkeley and El Cerrito is anticipated to begin in mid to late 2017 and end in mid to late 2019. Construction of the two Central Pressure Zone Pipelines in El Cerrito, Richmond, and San Pablo is anticipated to begin in 2021 and end in 2022.

There are several steps to pipeline construction, which result in crews working for about 5 days in each area, depending on local conditions. Crews will saw cut the pavement, excavate the trench, lower the pipe into place, weld the pipeline segments together, backfill the trench, and install temporary asphalt to repair the road. The contractor then comes back towards the end of the project to install permanent asphalt to repair the road. In locations where new pipes are connected to existing pipes construction periods may take several weeks. Contractors can typically install between 80 to 200 feet of pipeline in a single day

Typically between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Longer construction hours (up to 24 hours per day) may be required where the proposed pipelines connect with existing pipelines to minimize customer water service disruption and night work may be required at major intersections to avoid traffic impacts.

As all of the new pipelines are large transmission pipelines with no water service connections, we do not expect construction to affect water service to existing residential and business customers. If your connection is affected by a nearby tie-in, you may experience a short term disruption of service. EBMUD makes every reasonable attempt to ensure you will be notified in advance.

Many of the residential streets will be closed during construction hours with access restored during non-work hours. Pedestrian access to homes would be maintained at all times. Residents’ vehicular access will be allowed to the extent feasible, although substantial delays may be encountered depending upon the stage of construction.

Emergency vehicles will be allowed on the closed streets to service residents within the construction area.

Bus routes would be detoured around closed streets. EBMUD will coordinate with the transit agencies to temporarily relocate existing bus stops that are in conflict with the construction activities.

Through traffic will not be allowed on the closed streets. Both bicycles and vehicles will be detoured around the construction zone.

Equipment and material would be stored on the street overnight and would temporarily reduce the amount of parking on the street. EBMUD will work with the cities to allow residents to park in adjacent neighborhoods during construction.

All excavated trenches which are not backfilled at the end of day will be secured using appropriate trench plates or temporary fencing after work hours. Trench plates can be walked on or driven over.

EBMUD will do a T-cut repair, which means a replacement of the roadway to one foot beyond the edge of trench. Where the edge of the trench is within 2 feet of a gutter lip or the edge of pavement, the pavement between the trench cut and the gutter lip or edge of pavement will be removed and replaced. The permanent replacement paving will be installed towards the end of the project, so initially residents will see temporary asphalt in the trench area.

The exact location of the pipelines will be determined during the final design of the project and depends upon where other existing utilities are located in the street. Occasionally, unforeseen conditions may require alignment adjustments.

The new pipelines would typically have 4 feet of cover and would typically go under other existing underground utilities.

Most residential areas have existing utilities buried in the street including water lines, sewer lines, storm drains, and natural gas lines. Some communities have underground electric utilities, and will also have telephone lines, power lines, and cable lines buried in the street and sidewalks. Of these existing utilities those that pose a high risk are high-pressure natural gas pipelines, petroleum pipelines, pressurized sewage pipelines, and high-voltage electric supply lines. EBMUD refers to these utilities as high priority utilities.

To avoid damaging existing underground utilities EBMUD requests as-built documents and system maps from all utilities and companies that operate transmission facilities within the project area; conducts site visits to observe utility markers and surface features such as manhole rims, grates, and valve pots; and contacts the Underground Service Alert to have existing utilities marked prior to excavation. EBMUD uses geophysical methods like ground penetrating radar or electromagnetic signaling when there is poor, non-existent, or conflicting utility data in congested utility locations. When the pipeline is to be installed within 5 feet of an existing high-priority utility, then EBMUD hand digs to locate the high priority utility during the design of the project.

Yes. It is common in the East Bay to encounter groundwater while excavating trenches to install water pipes. Crews will pump water out of trench and dispose of it in the storm drain or sanitary sewer depending upon the quality of the water. If the water is contaminated it will be treated before release.

The Wildcat Pipeline (El Cerrito) and the Central Pressure Zone Pipeline (El Cerrito/Richmond) serve customers at different elevations, so the water in each pipe is at a different pressure and the two pipelines cannot be combined into a single pipeline. Regarding a single common trench, the two pipelines connect into existing transmission mains at different points, so placing the Wildcat Pipeline (El Cerrito) in San Pablo Avenue would require constructing a longer pipeline. Similarly attempting to place the Central Pressure Zone Pipeline (El Cerrito/Richmond) in Richmond Street would require constructing a longer pipeline.

Alternative alignments will be reviewed and discussed in the alternatives section of the EIR. They will not be evaluated to the same level of detail for their environmental impacts as the proposed alignments.

EBMUD issued a Notice of Preparation in February 2012 to responsible agencies and known interested parties, inviting public input on the scope and content of the environmental impact report.
EBMUD published the Draft Environmental Impact Report on May 15 2013. The public is invited to review and comment on the document during the 45-day public review comment period with public comments due by 4:30 p.m. on July 2, 2013. The following three public meetings are scheduled to review the Draft EIR and will start at 6:00 p.m.:

  • June 12, 2013 First Presbyterian Church, 2407 Dana Street, Berkeley
  • June 19, 2013 Maple Hall, 13831 San Pablo Avenue #4, San Pablo
  • June 26, 2013 El Cerrito High School, 540 Ashbury Avenue, El Cerrito

Certification of the EIR and review and approval of the West of Hills Northern Pipelines Project is scheduled to go before the EBMUD Board of Directors at a regular Board meeting in December 2013.

EBMUD made 13 presentations while performing the Alignment Study to solicit input from cities, special districts, business organizations, and the general public on the alignment alternatives. Additional the Notice of Preparation was published in February 2013 and an agency scoping meeting was held in March 2012 to solicit input from the public agencies on the potential environmental impacts of the project. EBMUD is currently in the public review period for the Draft Environmental Impact Report, which was published on May 15, 2013 with public comments due by 4:30 p.m. on July 2, 2013. Comments to the Draft EIR will be responded to in writing via the Final EIR, Response to Comments which will be made available no less than 10 days prior to the certification hearing.

Yes. EBMUD met with representatives from Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond and San Pablo, Stege Sanitary District, and BART to coordinate this project with their capital improvement plans. EBMUD will continue to seek coordination opportunities with other agencies as the project moves forward.

Project information is available on the project’s web page, which will be updated regularly. EBMUD will also mail out flyers and postcards to notify residents within the project area about the upcoming meetings.