Storms Flood Sewer Pipes


As fall winds down and winter revs up, EBMUD is preparing for our wettest months of the year. Rain or shine, 24/7, the folks at EBMUD’s Main Wastewater Treatment Plant make sure that wastewater collected from communities in the East Bay is treated so it’s safe to release to San Francisco Bay. During dry months, EBMUD handles about 50 million gallons of wastewater a day — removing solids and other contaminants. In rainy months, the amount of wastewater that pours into EBMUD’s Main Wastewater Treatment Plant can increase to 500 million gallons per day. During heavy rains, stormwater seeps into soils and drains through paths of least resistance. It infiltrates the sewer system through cracks in private sewer laterals, which connect individual homes and businesses to public sewer lines in the street.

Operating the plant during big storms is challenging. Since every storm is different, EBMUD activates a unique and strategic response for each storm, using our wet weather facilities to manage the excess rainy day flows. Crews who operate these facilities — sometimes in the dead of night, and always in the cold rain — must respond to changing weather conditions, as well as unexpected power outages. It’s not an easy job preventing excess flows from spilling untreated sewage into the bay.

EBMUD is doing its part to protect San Francisco Bay and you can help. How? If you are a homeowner or a business, fix your cracked or broken private sewer lateral so it doesn’t contribute excess flows to the sewer system. By federal and state law, property owners in the EBMUD service area are required to have their private sewer laterals inspected and certified leak-free. You can do this any time, but it’s required when you sell, remodel or change water meter size. Homeowners’ associations and properties within HOAs have different requirements, including a deadline to submit documentation this year. Compliance certificates are good for either seven or 20 years.