EBMUD completes $200 million in water infrastructure projects, kicks off major treatment plant upgrades

The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) has wrapped up $200 million in capital projects over the last two years, including construction of 53 miles of new pipelines, replacement an aging water storage tank in Berkeley, and development of a unique groundwater banking project in San Joaquin County to expand our water supplies during dry years.

This month, EBMUD will begin construction on critical upgrades to the Orinda Water Treatment Plant – EBMUD’s largest water treatment plant that serves the most people. These infrastructure investments underscore EBMUD’s commitment to serving our diverse East Bay community, protecting natural resources, and investing in the water and wastewater systems of the future.

“These past two years have challenged EBMUD and other water utilities in many ways, from public health and social justice issues to wildfires and the ongoing drought,” said EBMUD Board President Doug Linney. “By finishing these vital capital projects, EBMUD is improving the resilience of its water and wastewater systems to meet the challenges facing us. We appreciate every single ratepayer and consumer who supports our work.”

To serve its 1.4 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, the EBMUD water system includes more than 4,200 miles of water distribution pipelines, two reservoirs in the Sierra Nevada foothills (Pardee and Camanche), five reservoirs in the East Bay, six water treatment plants, 164 water storage tanks, and 135 pumping plants. EBMUD’s wastewater system, which serves 740,000 customers west of the Berkeley/Oakland Hills, includes 29 miles of large-diameter sewer collection pipes, 15 pumping plants, three facilities that handle wet weather flows, and the Main Wastewater Treatment Plant at the foot of the Bay Bridge.

Major projects now complete

This summer, EBMUD completed a $9 million project in the Berkeley Hills that involved replacing facilities dating to 1906. EBMUD replaced the 59-year-old University water storage tank, which serves much of the Panoramic Hills neighborhood, with two new tanks to improve operational flexibility and ensure we continue to provide high-quality water to our customers. Also replaced was the 116-year-old University Pumping Plant, which pumps water from lower elevation pipelines to the higher elevation neighborhood tanks. This project also included replacement of nearly 7,300 feet of pipeline installed in the 1940s. To deliver long sections of new pipe up steep Berkeley hills with small streets and many switch-backs, in 2016 and 2017 EBMUD enlisted a helicopter crew to airlift the materials safely and cost-effectively to designated staging areas in the hills – a first for EBMUD. Video of helicopter delivery here.

This summer, EBMUD also completed construction of three facilities in San Joaquin County marking a major step in EBMUD’s groundwater banking effort: the Demonstration Recharge, Extraction and Aquifer Management, or DREAM Project. This unique urban-agricultural partnership allows farmers to irrigate crops with EBMUD water diverted from the Mokelumne River in wetter years rather than irrigating with groundwater from the area’s depleted aquifer. In exchange, EBMUD banks water in the aquifer for withdrawal in dry years, resulting in a net gain in groundwater, and replenishment of the aquifer. The completed facilities include pumping plants along the Mokelumne River and near an existing irrigation well, and an intertie and pumping plant to connect to EBMUD’s Mokelumne Aqueducts for a total EBMUD investment of $2.5 million. Photos of the facilities here.

Since July 2020 – the start of EBMUD’s fiscal year – EBMUD has completed a total of 86 projects worth about $200 million. Projects include:

·        Construction of 53 miles, roughly the distance between Oakland and Napa, of water distribution pipeline in Alameda, Alamo, Albany, Ashland, Berkeley, Castro Valley, Crockett, Danville, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Lafayette, Oakland, Orinda, Piedmont, Pleasant Hill, Richmond, Rodeo, San Leandro, San Pablo and Walnut Creek. These new pipelines replace aging pipes, increase resiliency, and improve water reliability.

·        Nine reservoir and pumping plant rehabilitations, replacements and/or demolitions to improve water quality in Berkeley, Castro Valley, Lafayette, Oakland, Orinda, Rodeo, San Leandro, and Walnut Creek.

·        Three rate control station rehabilitations, replacements and/or demolitions in Hayward and Oakland.

·        Repairs to a water transmission line in Ione and to Pardee Tunnel in Pardee Reservoir. Video of underwater repair work on Pardee Tunnel here.

EBMUD is currently working on nearly 40 capital improvement projects and plans to begin another 35 projects during the 2023-24 fiscal years. Another dozen projects are in the planning stages. More about EBMUD’s long-term infrastructure plans here.

Orinda Water Treatment Plant upgrade begins

This month, EBMUD started work on the Orinda Water Treatment Plant, which was built in the 1930s and serves drinking water to some 800,000 customers daily.

The five-year, $269 million upgrade will take this nearly century-old plant into a more sustainable future with the addition of a new ultraviolet disinfection facility to improve the treatment process. The upgrade also will add a new chlorine contact basin to reduce the formation of disinfection byproducts, which occurs when organic matter interacts with chlorine. The project will also upgrade the chemical systems to improve safety and operational flexibility.  More project information is at: ebmud.com/orwtpimprovements.

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The East Bay Municipal Utility District has a proud history of providing high-quality drinking water for 1.4 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. EBMUD’s wastewater system serves 740,000 customers and helps protect the ecosystem of San Francisco Bay. EBMUD is a not-for-profit public agency established in 1923.

 

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