Winter storms deliver the snow and rain we desperately need. But they also trigger surges in wastewater. EBMUD manages and treats these flows to protect public health and the environment, in particular San Francisco Bay.
In the East Bay, stormwater and wastewater are carried through different underground systems. When it rains, storm drains collect runoff to protect properties and streets from flooding and send it directly to the Bay. Wastewater from homes and businesses flows through the sanitary sewer system – owned and operated by the city or sanitary district – and then to EBMUD wastewater facilities where we treat it and release it to the Bay.
But there’s a twist. Stormwater seeps through saturated soils and cracked sewer pipes into the wastewater system. During heavy rains, wastewater flows increase dramatically from about 50 million gallons to 500 million gallons per day! EBMUD works with cities to identify leaks and fix their aging sewer infrastructure by measuring flows, following smoke and dye tests through pipes, and using cameras. We’ve spent more than $14 million and identified 485 sources of stormwater infiltration in the regional system. Cities have rehabilitated 180 miles of sewer pipes, or 11 percent of the total collection system.
You have an important role. Half the pipes in the wastewater system are private sewer laterals (PSLs) that connect homes and businesses to city sewer mains. If you buy a property, complete a remodel above $100,000, or change water meter size, you must certify your PSL as leak-free.
EBMUD operates the Regional Private Sewer Lateral Program, which just commemorated its 10th anniversary. One third of all laterals, over 500 miles of pipe, are now certified in our wastewater service area. These efforts go a long way to protect your property, public health, and the environment. For more information, visit ebmud.com/psl.
By ensuring your PSL is leak-free, you protect your property, public health, and the environment