Berkeley earthquake has no impact on EBMUD operations or facilities

EBMUD maintains constant focus on emergency preparedness and strengthening our vital water and wastewater systems to withstand the next great quake. 

At 2:39 A.M. this morning there was a magnitude 4.4 earthquake with the epicenter near the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. Though the epicenter was near several EBMUD reservoirs and pumping plants, there were no operational impacts or damage to our facilities. Per EBMUD’s standard response protocols after an earthquake, staff conducted inspections of the water treatment plants, wastewater treatment plant, and other critical facilities.

EBMUD’s history of improvements throughout the system
With the public health of 1.4 million East Bay residents relying on our critical services every minute of every day, EBMUD continuously works to strengthen facilities and practice strategies for a quick recovery. Internationally, we are recognized for a proactive seismic improvement program, having spent decades examining the vulnerabilities of our water system and implementing system-wide seismic improvements. 

Since the last major quake that hit the Bay Area (Loma Prieta in 1989), EBMUD has invested more than $350 million in seismic safety including: 

  • The Seismic Improvement Program completed in 2006 included upgrades to over a hundred major facilities such as treatment plants, reservoirs, and pumping plants to reduce the chance of damage in a major quake.
  • San Pablo Dam seismic upgrade, completed in September 2010; upgrades added a larger buttress, improved the dam’s foundation and installed remote survey instruments to monitor the dam’s health continuously and quickly detect creeping, settlement and any damage after an emergency.
  • Chabot Dam seismic upgrade, completed this year; upgraded the dam’s foundation and reconfigured seismically-vulnerable outlet structures.
  • Construction of a seismically resistant tunnel to carry water through the Hayward Fault zone to the western part of our service area.
  • Pipeline Rebuild; with more than 4,200 miles of water pipelines, Pipeline Rebuild – EBMUD’s innovative approach to water pipeline replacement – is bringing new installation practices and materials including earthquake resistant joints to the seismically-active, geographically complex Bay Area.

The District also has a capital improvement program which ensures annual evaluation of, and upgrades to, our reservoirs, pumping plants, large transmission mains, and numerous other facilities. Our facilities continually are upgraded to the latest seismic standards to provide reliable service to our customers. 

Collaboration on seismic research
EBMUD engineers frequently share their specialized knowledge of our infrastructure and seismic modeling with academic researchers. Just this year, staff members have worked with the University of Colorado Boulder, the United States Geological Survey, American Society of Civil Engineers, Cornell University, and agencies throughout the Bay Area on earthquake resilience.

These ongoing collaborations with scientific research foster national and international discussion on the importance of public infrastructure and recovery following disasters. Efforts to examine lifeline interdependencies, including water, energy, fuel, communications, and transportation systems, is critical when planning for the challenges of broad infrastructure repairs in the aftermath of a major disaster.

Despite seismic preparedness, we know damage will still occur
Even with decades of investment and upgrades, we cannot eliminate all damage that will follow a large earthquake. To prepare, EBMUD works closely with the cities, counties and communities we serve to educate first responders, emergency preparedness professionals, and the public about our water system, our facilities and the critical need for emergency preparedness. We also actively plan for and practice emergency drills, including business recovery plans – to enable us to recover and continue serving our customers quickly following a large seismic event. 

EBMUD recommends customers store enough tap or bottled water to last 3-7 days (with one to two gallons per person per day) and maintain a container (5 gallons or less) to obtain water if the emergency supply runs out. More information on being prepared for temporary water and sewer system outages is available at