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U.S. EPA Directs Bay Area Wastewater Collection Systems to Protect San Francisco Bay from Sewage Discharges

SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 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.

The Department of Justice filed a complaint on behalf of the EPA on Dec. 3, with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the satellite collection systems. In July 2009, a settlement between the 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.

According to the EPA’s Water Division director for the Pacific Southwest region, “These actions will set the stage for long-lasting improvements to the East Bay wastewater system, providing important protections for the Bay. 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 EPA 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,  and
  • develop and implement a program to identify and eliminate illicit connections of storm drains to the sewage collection pipes.

For a copy of the July 2009 agreement between EPA, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, and East Bay Municipal Utility District to address inadequately treated wastewater discharges to San Francisco Bay click here.