EBMUD ingenuity protects the bay and our ratepayers

Every day, waste from nearly 740,000 East Bay residents and businesses flows into EBMUD’s Wastewater Treatment Plant where it is treated before it’s discharged to the San Francisco Bay.

Our plant is great at removing solids, pathogens and pollutants from the water sent down your drains. Our processes protect public health and support a vibrant bay ecosystem.

But one challenge has remained: reducing discharges of nitrogen compounds that can contribute to harmful algal blooms.

Over the past five years, EBMUD has been experimenting to find a solution. Now, our staff have developed a first-of-its kind process to significantly cut nitrogen loads.

We’ve modified our operations and existing infrastructure to grow bacteria that break down inorganic nitrogen compounds such as ammonia, nitrite and nitrate that are common in wastewater. That’s important because just as these compounds are used in fertilizers to feed plants, they can contribute to harmful algae growth in the bay.

The results of our biological nitrogen removal process have been extraordinary. By the end of next year we expect to reduce nitrogen levels in our wastewater discharge by up to 65 percent.

On top of delivering environmental benefits, this example of EBMUD ingenuity could save ratepayers $2 billion in estimated costs we may have otherwise needed to spend to install a new mainstream treatment process for removing nitrogen.

There’s more work to do, but we’re driven to apply our scientific knowledge, engineering know-how, and culture of innovation to tackle challenges and protect the bay.

Main Wastewater Treatment Plant, Oakland, CA

Our wastewater treatment plant operates around the clock every day of the year.


EBMUD’s 2022-23 Biennial Report, “Flowing into the Future: A Report to Our Community,” is now available. We used the multimedia StoryMap platform to highlight the last two years. Find it at ebmud.com/publications.