When EBMUD crews are in your neighborhood

Providing reliable drinking water to our customers is important to us. When a water main breaks or when water system improvements occur, it can be disruptive and inconvenient to the customers that we serve. We work to minimize impacts to you and we appreciate your patience and understanding. This page details what to expect during repairs or construction improvements. You can also learn more about the system improvements near you on the   Construction in My Neighborhood Map.

What to expect during construction    

 24/7 Emergency response 

Contact EBMUD to report a water emergency, such as a broken hydrant or flooding in the street or into local creeks. Maintenance crews are on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 1-866-403-2683. 

  Construction zone 

Safety is our priority. Orange cones and barricades keep you out and keep you safe, and protect workers too. You may see EBMUD workers directing traffic, acting as spotters and practicing a variety of safety measures. When driving past a work site, please slow down. You may also notice temporary staging of equipment, excavation work and construction-related noise and dust.

 Temporary water service disruptions

If your water is shut off, while crews work in your neighborhood, use your emergency water supply until service is restored. Our priority is to safely resume service to customers as quickly as we can. 

 Temporary paving

When work is completed, EBMUD paving crews return to replace temporary paving with permanent paving. It may take up to 30 days before final paving is complete.

  This video explains how EBMUD paves your streets following repairs or pipe replacements

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn about why pipeline breaks happen, how EBMUD crews respond to emergencies and our efforts to improve the water system. 

Call EBMUD at 1-866-403-2683. 

If you have no water, it is advisable that you shut the water supply valves to toilets in your home. Once water is restored, run water through your front hose bib – the outdoor faucet at the front of the house – until the water runs clear. Also run cold water from the faucets inside the home for 1-3 minutes until the water is clear. Then turn your toilets back on.

repairCrew.jpgOnce EBMUD receives notice about a leak in the street, we: 

  • Dispatch an investigator to the location of the leak. EBMUD investigators will control the leak to reduce the risk to public safety, and private and public property by finding and closing valves to isolate the leaking water main. Investigators do their best to respond within one hour, but higher priority leaks may take precedence.
  • Contact other utilities to make sure that EBMUD crews can dig safely without damaging other utility lines or endangering the public.
  • Locate the leak location using electronic or manual sounding devices to find the origin of the leak and we will determine if the leak is from an EBMUD pipe.
  • Repair the water main. Depending on the type of break, we may apply a repair clamp or replace a section of the pipe.
  • Open valves to turn the water main back on, flush the water main and sample water quality.
  • Backfill to temporarily resurface the excavated area. 
  • Return to permanently resurface the excavated area.

Main Break Repair It varies depending on where the break is and how it happens. The majority of pipeline repairs can be completed in six hours or less. Larger, more complicated repairs may require more time.

Pipe repair can be complicated; crews sometimes work for hours to locate the origin of a leak and then repair the line. Certain repairs can take longer if special equipment is required, or if there are other utilities in the area that need work first. Our priority is to safely resume service to customers as quickly as we can. Water service is resumed after repairs are complete and EBMUD has tested the line. 

Water service is resumed after repairs are complete and EBMUD has tested the line.

EBMUD_at_work.jpgEBMUD responds to emergencies and conducts emergency maintenance repairs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays. Non-emergency planned maintenance is typically scheduled during normal business hours. Sometimes, non-emergency work may be done after hours to minimize traffic, business, or other concerns. 

EBMUD opens up as many as 5,000 public streets per year to replace miles of pipe, repair broken mains and service lines, and install new services lines, regulators and hydrants. When work is completed, EBMUD Paving Crews will install temporary paving. Within a month crews will come back to permanently  pave the street. NOTE: It may take up to 30 days before final paving is complete. 

Learn about EBMUD's effort to streamline the paving process. 

Yes. EBMUD crews follow rigorous procedures to ensure that pipes are clean when responding to a break.

Some possible causes of problems with water which appears dirty, has an unusual color, or sediment/particles include:

  • Sediments or pipe materials from breaks in water mains or hydrants. Water mains in the distribution system can fail due to age, corrosion, high pressure surges, or damage by construction work. Hydrants can also be broken off by vehicles.
  • High flows can occur in water mains due to fire fighting, water system tests, or maintenance. Unusual high-flow conditions can stir up sediment or scale from water mains.
  • Construction activities: the customer's service connection from the distribution main to the water meter is sometimes disturbed by construction activities of contractors or other utilities.
  • Aging galvanized plumbing: rust particles or scale from galvanized steel home plumbing can also produce reddish-brown water or rust particles, particularly noticeable when a tap is first turned on.

Since there are many causes of dirty water, EBMUD investigates each complaint carefully. Please be prepared to answer the following questions when reporting this problem at 1-866-403-2683.

  1. What is the location of the premises where the dirty water occurred?
  2. When was the dirty water first detected?
  3. What does the water look like? Does it have color?
  4. Are both the cold and hot water dirty?
  5. Is the water dirty at all faucets?
  6. Are the particles large, small, or colored; does the water look milky or contain air?
  7. Have you had plumbing work done recently on either hot or cold water lines?

The answers to these questions will assist us in finding the cause of the dirty water and may also suggest corrective steps to take. EBMUD Water System Inspectors respond to calls regarding water which appears to be dirty, colored or has foreign particles, within one business day.

A common cause for slow water flow from your faucet is a clogged faucet aerator. Fortunately, unclogging it is a simple fix. Sediment that flows in the water supply lines can get trapped in the aerator screen. If your aerator is two years or older, consider replacing it. It is recommended that aerators be changed once every 2-3 years as they get worn, grimy, and/or clogged. 

For bathrooms, it is recommended that the flow for that aerator be 1.0 gallon per minute. For kitchen aerators, the recommended flow is 1.5 gallons per minute or less.

To clean the aerator, follow these simple steps:

  1. Plug the drain so you don’t lose any small parts.
  2. Take the aerator off the end of the faucet. You should be able to unscrew it with a wrench or pliers or by hand. Covering the pliers with electrical tape will keep them from damaging the aerator.
  3. Clean the aerator screen and parts. You can use a toothbrush and water to scrub debris off the pieces. 
  4. Be sure the holes in the screen are clear. Soaking the aerator parts overnight in white vinegar will remove lime scale and calcium build-up from hard water. Take the aerator apart. There are several parts inside the aerator. As you take them out, pay close attention to how they fit together. This will make it easier to reassemble. 
  5. Clean the aerator screen and parts. You can use a toothbrush and water to scrub debris off the pieces. Be sure the holes in the screen are clear. Soaking the aerator parts overnight in white vinegar will remove lime scale and calcium build-up from hard water.
  6. Reassemble the aerator and screw it back on the faucet. It doesn’t have to be very tight. If water leaks above the aerator after you’ve hand-tightened it, use the pliers to give it a small turn. 
  7. Your water should flow freely now. 

Note: If parts are damaged or get broken in the process, replace the entire aerator. Take the aerator being replaced with you to the hardware store so you can shop for the correct replacement. The two most common aerators are standard-dual thread aerators (fit both male and female threads) and Chicago-style aerators, which are available as either male or female threads.  

Pressure in your pipes may create the appearance of cloudy, milky or foamy water. This is air under pressure in your water pipes much like carbon dioxide in a bottle of soda. Turning on the faucet releases the pressure, causing the air bubbles to appear. The water is safe to drink. Run the water at your hose bib first. Once clear, run the cold water at your interior fixtures. If you allow a glass of water to stand for a few moments, the air bubbles will rise to the surface and will clear within minutes.

Discoloration in water, such as a light yellow to dark brown color, may occur when pipeline sediment in the water is stirred during pipeline repair work. The discoloration is caused by dissolved iron which is stirred up by turning valves, flushing hydrants or reversing water in mains that are being returned to service. To remove the discoloration, run your front hose bib first and once clear proceed to run the cold water at your interior fixtures.

If the cloudy, milky, foamy or discolored water persists, please call 1-866-403-2683, and give us your address and a telephone number so we can have an inspector contact you.

Low water pressure may occur as EBMUD restores water service back to customers following a pipeline repair. EBMUD is careful to gradually restore pressure to avoid other potential main breaks.

Call EBMUD at 1-866-40-EBMUD and ask for Risk Management.

EBMUD repairs leaks to its water meters and water mains. Leaks on the customer's side of the meter, including the pipe between the meter and the building, the irrigation system, or indoor plumbing, are the responsibility of the customer.

No, EBMUD only repairs water mains. Cities, counties, and property owners maintain sewer pipelines and are responsible for repairing these leaks.

First contact your neighbor and inform them about their leak. If you are not able to talk with them and feel the leak may cause damage to your property or the property of others, then call EBMUD and ask that your neighbor's meter be turned off. If it is determined that the leak is severe or may cause damage, and your neighbor is unaware of the leak or cannot be contacted, EBMUD will turn off the water and leave a note informing the neighbor of the action taken.

 Main Break Repair  Water leaks can be caused by ground movement, pipe corrosion, soil conditions, age, or damage by contractors working underground. 

The exact cause of each break is determined by our investigators and that information is used to prioritize and plan for future pipeline replacement projects. 

 Many of the pipes delivering water to East Bay homes and businesses are approaching the end of their useful life. This 79-year-old cast iron pipe was unearthed following a main break.

Many of the pipes delivering water to East Bay homes and businesses are approaching the end of their useful life. This 79-year-old cast iron pipe was unearthed following a main break.

Aging pipes are a national problem. EBMUD's pipeline replacement program focuses on protecting the environment and public health. Pipe replacements represent about a third of our planned investments in capital improvements. We also work with other agencies to coordinate work in various neighborhoods, to save money and reduce impacts to neighbors.

Leak repairs are prioritized based on many factors including the severity of the leak, public safety and/or the environment, probability of property damage, unsafe traffic conditions, or other issues specific to the situation. Large leaks causing water outages and those that might impact public safety/environment or cause property damage are typically repaired as soon as possible. Staff is available 24 hours a day to make emergency repairs. If the leak is small, the repair order is held to allow for notification of customers and other utilities and to schedule the work. The Underground Service Alert requires 48 hours notice for planned repairs to allow cities and agencies to locate and mark their utilities such as gas, electricity, sewer, etc. 

Pipeline Replacements You may see crews working to repair infrastructure that has broken unexpectedly, or crews may be working on scheduled improvements.

Visit our construction map to learn about EBMUD construction projects and improvements near you.  

EBMUD uses chloramine, a mix of chlorine and ammonia, to disinfect its drinking water. Chloramines are necessary for delivering water that is safe for humans, but they are not good for fish. EBMUD uses fabric mats with treatment tablets to remove chloramine from the water released from pipe breaks and broken hydrants before it reaches storm drains, nearby streams or the Bay.