Sewage Spill Plagues Bay Farm Lagoon

East Bay Municipal Utilities District posted this “No Swimming” sign after 97,000 gallons of raw sewage seeped into a lagoon off Robert Davey Jr. Drive just south of Purcell Drive on Dec. 16.

Sewage Spill Plagues Bay Farm Lagoon

Second EBMUD electrical failure in four months spills 97,000 gallons

Residents living on local waterways have experienced two wastewater spills in the last four months.
An unexpected power outage last Aug. 15, led to an equipment failure at the East Bay Municipal Utilities District’s (EBMUD) wastewater plant in Oakland.

This resulted in a sewer back-up and the release of 50,000 gallons of raw and partially treated wastewater into the Oakland Estuary.

The second, more recent electrical failure at the plant involved almost twice as much wastewater, some 97,000 gallons, spilling into a much smaller body of water — a lagoon on Bay Farm Island.

At 7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 16, EBMUD reported that this new electrical failure caused raw sewage to spill into the lagoon near Robert Davey Jr. Drive, just south of Purcell Drive on Bay Farm Island.

This failure is not related in any way to service provided by Alameda Municipal Power.

Bacteria concentrations in the lagoon exceeded state health standards, EBMUD stated in an advisory posted on its website.

“Do not engage in any recreational water contact in the lagoon until this advisory is removed,” EBMUD advised.

The utility district sampled the water over a 10-day period for enterococcus bacteria and, on Dec. 26, declared the waters in the lagoon safe.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) these bacteria indicate presence of fecal material in water “and, therefore, of the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria, viruses and protozoa.”

EPA warns that these pathogens can sicken swimmers and others who enter the water for recreation or to eat raw shellfish or fish.”

“Two large sewage spills resulting from power outages and backup generator failures in a matter of months can no longer be excused as an accident,” Sejal Choksi-Chugh, executive director of San Francisco Baykeeper, told KQED’s Ted Goldberg, who first reported the spill. Baykeeper has pushed EBMUD for years to do more to prevent wastewater spills.

When all works well, sewage flows through city pipes that empty into the EBMUD collection system. That system then delivers the wastewater to the treatment plant at the base of the Bay Bridge where it is treated.

Google Earth    An EBMUD electrical failure caused raw sewage to seep into the lagoon pictured above. This small body of water is located south of the Harbor Bay Club along Purcell Drive. An EBMUD electrical failure prevented the sewage from flowing through city pipes and on to the treatment plant in Oakland.