East Bay Water Utility Warns That High Volume of Sewage Overflowed Amid Recent Rains, Possibly Into Bay

East Bay Water Utility Warns That High Volume of Sewage Overflowed Amid Recent Rains, Possibly Into Bay

The East Bay’s regional water utility, the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), said last week that its systems experienced several sewer overflows amid New Year’s storms, prompting calls from Bay Area environmental advocates for investment. largest in wastewater infrastructure, KTVU reported.

EBMUD said in a statement that some of the wastewater treatment plants it oversees overflowed several times in Oakland and Alameda on Dec. 31, 2022. The company described these overflows as “sanitary sewer overflows,” which are when storage and “sanitary sewage” treatment. the systems – meant to handle human waste from toilets, showers and sinks – are overwhelmed by rain.

KTVU reported that the flooding locations included one near the San Leandro Creek in Oakland, one at a structure in Alameda that flows into the Oakland Estuary near the Barnhill Marina and another in the Oakland Estuary at the foot of Alice Street. Additionally, wells are said to be overflowing with more sewage near Eastshore Highway 1056 in Albany; at Page Street and 2nd Street in Berkeley; and at Broadway and Clement Avenue in Alameda.

Map of the City of Oakland’s Sanitary Sewer Collection System.

EBMUD told KTVU that its sewage system is designed to overflow when flooded with running water, and it was working as intended. However, EBMUD said it was collecting water quality samples and placing advisory signs at these locations to warn the public to avoid contact with the water.

Additionally, people are encouraged to stay out of the Bay and local bodies of water that feed into the Bay for at least 72 hours after a major storm ends, the Bay City News also reported.

Heavy rains are overwhelming the Bay Area’s aging sewage treatment systems, causing massive sewage spills in #SFBay 🫤

Solution? Major infrastructure upgrades to handle increasingly intense winter storms, says @sejalc: https://t.co/WXcDVRFpXT

— SF Baykeeper (@SFBaykeeper) January 7, 2023 align=”center” style=”width:100%; max-width:100%”>

In response, local nonprofit San Francisco Baykeeper released a statement calling out the danger of sewage in urban environments like the Bay Area and calling on municipalities to improve the region’s largely decades-old sewage treatment infrastructure.

“The agency [EBMUD] has already released millions of gallons of raw or partially treated sewage directly into the Bay, with even more rains on the way…Sewage pollution contains harmful bacteria, viruses and other pathogens that can make people sick and even kill fish and other wild animals,” the statement said.

Baykeeper executive director Sejal Choksi-Chugh also said in the statement that “the Bay Area’s wastewater treatment facilities are extremely outdated.”

With more storms on the way next week, Choksi-Chugh noted that the Bay’s wastewater treatment system cannot handle the increasing frequency and intensity of regular winter storms driven by climate change.

Read more: Rainy Saturday will be a slight preview of more storms to come next week [SFist]

“There is a two-part solution that requires significant infrastructure investment,” he continued. “First, sewer pipes must be repaired, updated and maintained to prevent large volumes of storm water from entering the sewer system. And most importantly, sewage treatment plants need to be updated so they don’t discharge raw sewage into the bay.”

With long-term improvements yet to be announced, EBMUD said it was prepared for the upcoming rainfall and had staff ready to respond 24/7, according to KTVU.

Image via Unsplash/Jim Harris.

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