Preparing Water Systems for Wildfire Season


Does fall really mean summer? In the Bay Area, it sure does. The autumn months are hot and dry in our part of the world, and that means wildfire season. To avoid igniting a blaze, PG&E may need to shut down power to large parts of California during periods of high fire danger — events known as Public Safety Power Shutoffs.

But don’t worry about your water and wastewater services. Though EBMUD relies on power to move, treat and discharge water in our vast system, we are already prepared to keep your water flowing — just like we did during last year’s power shutdowns.

In fact, not one EBMUD customer lost water or wastewater service during Northern California’s first PSPS events in 2019. This year, we have again rented dozens of generators to keep critical operations running, including neighborhood pumping plants that play a vital role in delivering you water every day.

After EBMUD treats and tests your drinking water, pumping plants move that water to reservoirs and tanks in high elevation areas, where it’s stored until you turn on your tap. When fire danger is high and Red Flag Warnings are issued, EBMUD fills those reservoirs and tanks so they are at maximum capacity for customers and firefighters.

In addition, EBMUD’s wastewater facilities have permanent emergency generators ready to be called into action with adequate advanced notice from PG&E. This ensures we can treat and safely discharge wastewater during a planned PSPS, to protect public health and the San Francisco Bay ecosystem.

It’s no small feat to plan for a widespread electrical outage, especially for a utility dedicated to providing services around the clock every day of the year to 1.4 million water customers and 685,000 wastewater customers. Fear not — EBMUD has you covered.

What You Can Do

If a PSPS is announced in your area, EBMUD asks that you temporarily stop watering your landscape and minimize overall water use to ensure water supplies are available for your neighborhood. Please check our website for updates before, during and after a PSPS at

Be Prepared at Home

Earthquakes, storms and other unplanned incidents have the potential to knock out service. Every Bay Area resident should have an emergency water supply at home. We recommend two gallons per person per day for up to seven days (don’t forget pets). To learn more about available water storage options, visit