What's that smell?

MWWTP EBMUD helps protect public health and the San Francisco Bay by providing reliable, continuous wastewater treatment and implementing innovative pollution prevention programs. The Wastewater Treatment Plant in West Oakland, located at the base of the Bay Bridge, treats wastewater from approximately 680,000 people within an 88-square-mile area along the east shore of San Francisco BayEvery day, EBMUD receives approximately 50 million gallons of wastewater from nine cities: Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Kensington, Oakland, Piedmont, and part of Richmond. 

The wastewater treatment process is biological and sometimes can produce unpleasant smells. EBMUD values being a good neighbor, and makes every effort to reduce odors. 

Odor control efforts 

The first (and most important) step we take in removing odors is adding high-strength bleach to wastewater as it enters our treatment plant, breaking down the compounds in the water that cause that “rotten egg” smell.

The air in the plant’s influent pumping station is filtered and purified before being release into the atmosphere. These filters include both “biofilters,” which rely on microorganisms to remove odors, and granular activated carbon filters.

Our odor control systems include real-time air quality monitoring, used to measure the performance of our “odor scrubbers.”

Infrastructure improvements 

  • $16 million spent in major capital improvements to reduce odors at the treatment plant in the last 15 years.
  • $23 million in planned infrastructure investments and upgrades over the next five years.
  • EBMUD staff continues to implement and evaluate operational strategies to reduce odors.  

Report odors 

EBMUD recognizes that odors from the treatment plan can have an impact on our neighbors’ quality of life. If you are near EBMUD's Wastewater Treatment Plant and experience an odor issue, please contact us. We will investigate the cause of the odor and take actions to reduce it whenever possible. 

To report odors: fill out the odor report form or call the Odor Control Hotline at 510-287-1522.