Power outage at EBMUD Wastewater Treatment Plant causes release of sewage

Public should avoid bodily contact with water along the Oakland-Alameda Estuary

OAKLAND – A power outage on Friday included the West Oakland area where the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) Main Wastewater Treatment Plant is located. This power outage caused failure of major equipment at the wastewater plant resulting in a sewer back-up and release of raw and partially treated wastewater to the Oakland-Alameda Estuary. EBMUD is asking the public to avoid bodily contact with water in this area (swimming, boating) until water samples indicate it is safe.

The wastewater treatment received no power from PG&E between 5:10 pm and 6:50 pm. on Friday, resulting in major flooding of the pump station that transports sewage from East Bay communities via pipes to the plant for treatment, causing a back-up. EBMUD worked through the night to restore pumping capacity and stored excess flow in storage basins. However, flows exceeded the storage capacity before full operations could be restored and EBMUD discharged raw sewage to the Oakland-Alameda Estuary from the foot of Alice Street and Embarcadero Street in Oakland. Discharges occurred between approximately 4 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning. EBMUD estimates 50,000 gallons of untreated sewage was released.

Just after 3 a.m., EBMUD utilized its San Antonio Creek Wet Weather Facility to partially treat and discharge disinfected and dechlorinated sewage. This minimized the volume of raw sewage that would otherwise have been discharged. This facility discharges at a point just west of the Jack London Aquatic Center on the Oakland-Alameda estuary. The discharge is not expected to affect water quality at beaches in Alameda.

EBMUD notified regulatory agencies of the incident, and has posted signs along the estuary alerting the public. EBMUD also reached out to Baykeeper, local rowing clubs, and California Canoe and Kayak in Jack London Square. EBMUD is investigating the incident and plans to have a full report within a week.

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 treatment serves 685,000 customers and protects the San Francisco Bay. EBMUD is a not-for-profit public agency established in 1923.

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Andrea Pook
Senior Public Information Representative