May 22, 2018 marks EBMUD’s 95th birthday. For just shy of a century, we’ve been bringing fresh mountain water to the people of the East Bay, planning for the future and maintaining the assets gifted to us by our early founders. As we celebrate, we reflect on the people and innovations that enable EBMUD to provide this essential water, as well as wastewater treatment that protects the San Francisco Bay.
In 1923, 18 small water providers consolidated under California’s Municipal Utility District Act to become one EBMUD. In the decades since, we’ve built projects to serve generations, and we’ve adopted more efficient and technologically- advanced ways to do our work. In the early days, we used hollowed-out redwood trees as pipes. Now, we use a variety of sustainable materials–including those that can move with the shifting ground during earthquakes. When development scaled hillsides, we engineered pressure zones, built new treatment plants, and pumped water to a growing population at the highest elevations.
Even now, we rely on the work of our founders. Built in 1926, Pardee Tunnel connects Pardee Reservoir, where we capture Sierra Nevada snowmelt, to our three Mokelumne Aqueducts, which deliver water 90 miles to the East Bay. The 8-foot diameter tunnel stretches for nearly 12,000 feet and was built by hand using timber and concrete delivered by horses, before the invention of the tractor. It can carry up to 230 million gallons of raw water each day to EBMUD’s water treatment plants. Though approaching a century-old, an inspection of the tunnel earlier this year showed it continues to stand strong.
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If you look around your neighborhood, you too can find pieces of EBMUD’s history. Whether it’s an 80-year-old fire hydrant, an East Bay Water Company (E.B.W.Co.) valve cover, or the dam and treatment works of Lake Chabot, EBMUD is woven into the fabric of California’s history. After all, there would be no East Bay without safe, reliable drinking water.