Seen and Unseen

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The ground beneath us sustains everything we can see. We walk, run, and drive on it every day. Our houses, gardens, stores, and schools are all built on it. But the surfaces of pavement and earth block our view of what’s below: a complex, intricate network of  infrastructure that brings water to our 1.4 million East Bay customers every single day.

This underground network of more than 4,200 miles of pipeline could stretch the distance from Oakland to New York to Miami – yet most of us barely know it's there.

EBMUD’s water system starts in the Sierra Nevada mountains where large pipes bring high-quality water to every customer, hydrant, and fire service within our 325 square-mile service area. Along the pipes are tens of thousands of valves. The valves are concealed by valve covers that look like small manholes, dotting our streets in different diameters and materials.

On any given street, water quality test stations also hide in plain sight. As innocuous as mailboxes, these slender, white test stations draw water from key spots in EBMUD’s system to ensure water everywhere is of the highest quality.

Meter boxes, too, are also found underfoot. With more than 400,000 of them dispersed throughout our service area, meters lie below small rectangular removable covers at every home and business. They measure how much water is used by our customers.

And sometimes, you may see EBMUD’s field crews out there, above and below ground to keep it all in working order.

So as you step out today, enjoy the beauty of everything you can see, but then take a moment to consider all that is happening under your feet. It’s not magic. It's infrastructure, in a world you rarely see, that brings safe, reliable drinking water to you. 

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