Public Comment

Commentary: Your Water Company Leading the Way

By Lesa R. McIntosh
Friday April 20, 2007

Did you know that Easy Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD), your water company, sets the standard? The trick, which EBMUD seems to do so effortlessly, is to first secure a high-quality water source from the eastern Sierra mountains and the Mokelumne River watershed, transport that water through three 90-mile aqueducts to the East Bay, move it through a 331-square-mile area; from Crockett on the north, southward to San Lorenzo, eastward from San Francisco Bay to Walnut Creek, and south through the San Ramon Valley and through local pipelines to your tap. EBMUD serves 1.3 million water customers and over 650,000 wastewater customers here in the East Bay. The wastewater system covers an 88-square-mile area.  

Water, a vital resource, is becoming increasingly scarce due to fluctuations in climate, coupled with a growing population. EBMUD is a leader in promoting water use efficiency as a foundation for its long range water resource management plan. For many years, demand management, and water re-use have been important components in our water policies and practices which have been designed to promote wise and efficient use of our limited water supply. 

In relation to our wastewater service, EBMUD has instituted a resource recovery program to manage a variety of waste streams, including high biochemical oxygen demand and total dissolved solids wastes, groundwater and stormwater, winery and food processing wastes, and industrial process wastes and sludges. SD-1 (our Wastewater District) offers a disposal alternative to land application or for those without a sanitary sewer connection. Our digesters convert high strength waste into energy. This allows us to provide a sustainable and environmentally friendly disposal option. 

Water conservation and recycling are key components of EBMUD’s water supply reliability. So, the EBMUD Board of Directors set a 25-year goal of conserving and recycling an additional 49 million gallons per day (MGD) by 2020. Water consumption in 2005 was less than the demand in 1970, despite an increase in customers and accounts. This is because EBMUD offers a broad range of customer opportunities to reduce consumption, re-use supplies, and decrease water waste. Our water efficiency programs are founded on voluntary customer participation demonstrating that wise water use can be achieved without compromising lifestyle. Take advantage of our water conservation programs, rebates, and services for all customer categories. EBMUD programs and services include free indoor and outdoor surveys and water saving devices, incentives for installing water saving fixtures and equipment, as well as education and outreach programs. 

Water recycling is a growing part of EBMUD’s water portfolio. The San Ramon Valley Recycled Water Program, a partnership between EBMUD and the Dublin-San Ramon Services District, began delivering water to irrigation customers. EBMUD connected customers to the system by retrofitting their plumbing for recycled water and installing pipelines and meters. The first phase will deliver 0.7 MGD annually, and when completed will supply 2.4 MGD. The East Bayshore Recycled Water Project will provide 2.5 MGD to portions of Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland for irrigation and other uses. We are also working with the Chevron Refinery in Richmond and the West County Waste Water District to produce 4 MGD of recycled water for use at the Chevron boilers (RARE Project), thereby freeing up 6 MGD of our water supply. So, when you think of your water company, think about conserving and re-using. It reduces demand, helps you save on your water bill, better prepares us for drought and contributes to a stable water supply.