U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris tours EBMUD water treatment plant

Landmark visit highlights job creation as part of critical water system investments

OAKLAND On April 5, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris toured the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s Upper San Leandro Water Treatment Plant in Oakland to highlight the need for water-related infrastructure investments as part of the Biden Administration’s American Jobs Plan.

EBMUD provided a tour of the 94-year-old treatment plant and discussed the critical need to invest in water and wastewater systems for the protection of public health, water reliability, climate resiliency, and spur the Bay Area’s economic engine with job creation.

In her comments to the media, Vice President Harris stated:

“It’s great to be in Oakland and to be home, but it’s great to be here at EBMUD. This facility and this group have been doing work that really is a model for the country of what we do in terms of one acknowledging, as we have discussed, water is a right and it is obviously a precious resource. It sustains life in every form.”  

The District’s General Manager Clifford C. Chan, Board President Doug Linney (Ward 5), Board Member William B. Patterson (Ward 6) and graduates of EBMUD’s apprentice programs met with Vice President Harris and California Governor Gavin Newsom.

“Let’s invest in pipes and people -- the benefits are multi-fold,” said Director Linney. “When we fund infrastructure to serve our customers and protect the environment; we benefit our local communities by providing steady jobs, training and a boost to the economy.”   

EBMUD is a strong advocate for infrastructure investments that support careers in construction, maintenance and operations and benefits small, local businesses through EBMUD’s Contract Equity Program, which aids traditionally disadvantaged business owners. The California Urban Water Agencies estimates that every $1 billion of water-related infrastructure investment creates over 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in the local economy.

“We are honored to welcome Vice President Harris back to Oakland, in her first Bay Area visit since the election, and introduce her to the dedicated people and the hard-working systems behind each drop of EBMUD water,” said General Manager Chan. “Like other utilities across the nation, EBMUD is tackling the realities of aging infrastructure and climate change. The challenges are great, but I’m optimistic that we can meet this moment with support from local, state, and federal partners.”  

Vice President Harris spoke with two of EBMUD’s apprenticeship graduates about the benefits of workforce development programs, and who represent the hundreds of EBMUD employees who have participated in our programs.

“EBMUD’s Maintenance Trades Training Program opened the door for me to enter a career in the skilled trades – a place where women have been historically underrepresented,” said Nalani Heath-Delaney, an EBMUD carpenter who manages the District’s sign shop.

“When I started EBMUD’s Pipeline Training Academy, I was 18 years old and inexperienced,” said Walter Coty, a construction inspector, who oversees pipeline installation safety practices.  “This training gave me the skills and knowledge in the plumbing trade to build an amazing career at EBMUD, despite not following the traditional college route.”

Other topics addressed included EBMUD’s leadership around California’s “Get the Lead Out” legislation, which reduced the allowable lead content in drinking water plumbing, and was a model for federal legislation, as well as funding for affordability programs to ensure that low-income and vulnerable communities do not bear a disproportionate burden of rate increases. 

Photo: Vice President Harris and Governor Newsom tour the EBMUD Upper San Leandro Water Treatment Plant in Oakland, Calif. 

Photo courtesy: White House Press Office 

Vice President Kamala Harris Visits EBMUD Water Treatment Plant

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 740,000 customers and protects the San Francisco Bay. EBMUD is a not-for-profit public agency established in 1923.

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Tracie Morales
Public Information Representative