EPA: Wastewater Collection Systems Must Protect San Francisco Bay

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered seven municipal sewage collection systems in the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) to take steps to work with EPA and EBMUD to address inadequately treated sewage discharges from EBMUD Wet Weather Facilities to the San Francisco Bay.

The November 2009 administrative orders apply to Oakland, Emeryville, Piedmont, Berkeley, Alameda, Albany, and the Stege Sanitary District (which serves Kensington, El Cerrito and the Richmond Annex section of Richmond).

On behalf of EPA, the Department of Justice filed a complaint on Dec. 3, with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the satellite collection systems.

The complaint is a continuation of an ongoing effort. In July 2009, a settlement between EBMUD, EPA, and the California Regional Water Quality Control Board was finalized to address inadequately treated wastewater discharges to San Francisco Bay. EPA’s November orders are aimed at monitoring and repair of aging and leaky sewer pipes in the communities served by EBMUD.

“These actions will set the stage for long-lasting improvements to the East Bay wastewater system, providing important protections for the Bay,” said Alexis Strauss, director of EPA’s Water Division for the Pacific Southwest region. “This cooperative yet regulated approach marks an important step forward to eliminate discharges of partially treated sewage to the San Francisco Bay and will lead to a more sustainable sewage collection infrastructure program.”

Under the recent November 2009 orders, each of the East Bay sewage collection systems will be required to:

  • Cooperate with EBMUD in developing and implementing a program for routine cleaning, inspection, repair and replacement of sewer pipes.
  • Cooperate with EBMUD in the development and implementation of an inspection, repair and replacement program to reduce leaks from private sewer laterals.
  • Develop and implement a sewage flow monitoring program to complement the EBMUD regional flow monitoring program. This will allow all parties to focus future infrastructure investments.
  • Develop and implement a program to identify and eliminate illicit connections of storm drains to the sewage collection pipes.

EBMUD operates a large sewage treatment plant, three wet weather treatment facilities and major interceptor lines that transport sewage collected from seven East Bay contributing cities that include Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Albany, Piedmont, Emeryville and the Stege Sanitary District, and serves a total population of approximately 650,000.

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