Spotlight March 2023: East Bay Municipal Utility District Celebrates a Century by ACWA Staff Mar 17, 2023 A aerial view shows Pardee Reservoir today. Pardee Reservoir stores water from the Mokelumne River watershed, which supplies nearly 90 percent of EBMUD’s water supply. Photos courtesy of East Bay Municipal Utility District. Today, East Bay Municipal Utility District customers just turn the tap, and the miracle of fresh, clean water is theirs, at any moment. And after they’re finished, whatever goes down the drain is collected and treated before being released into San Francisco Bay. But it wasn’t always that easy for the ACWA member agency better known as EBMUD, which is sharing its story as it celebrates one hundred years of service. Frustrated by decades of unreliable local water supplies, the people of the East Bay voted in 1923 to form the East Bay Municipal Utility District. This pivotal vote took place on May 8 of that year and set in motion the creation of a public water system to replace the patchwork of private water companies that had attempted, and ultimately failed, to provide sufficient clean water to a burgeoning region. Searching beyond local sources of limited quantity and quality, the district chose to import water from the High Sierra watershed of the Mokelumne River. Visionary engineers and the sweat of hundreds of laborers built Pardee Dam, the largest and highest gravity arch dam ever constructed in the world at that time. Three aqueducts now bring the water 90 miles across the San Joaquin Valley and Delta to East Bay reservoirs, providing a quality supply that ranks with the best in the world. EBMUD treats and delivers this resource for 1.4 million customers throughout a 332-square-mile service area that includes customers in 20 incorporated and 15 unincorporated communities, including the cities of Oakland and Berkeley. Its wastewater system also serves people in an 88-square-mile area of Alameda and Contra Costa counties along the San Francisco Bay’s east shore. At first, water supply was EBMUD’s only business. But as rapid growth and inadequate sewers began to turn the eastern shores of San Francisco Bay into a reeking mess, six East Bay cities turned to EBMUD to solve this public health and environmental emergency. In 1944, residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties voted to build a wastewater treatment plant and sewer interceptor system to protect Bay water quality. Since EBMUD’s wastewater plant began work in 1951, odors along the shore have disappeared, Bay water recreation has flourished, and water quality has improved. The district now treats wastewater for more than 740,000 customers. From the beginning, the East Bay community has entrusted EBMUD to solve some of the region’s most daunting challenges. “Our commitment to the East Bay community is unwavering and extends day and night, through sunny skies and storms, from the Great Depression to pandemics, world wars, droughts, emergencies, and any other challenge that may come our way,” said Clifford Chan, General Manager of EBMUD. “For a century, EBMUD has been delivering on the promise to provide high-quality water to our customers – affordably, responsibly, and reliably. This 100-year milestone is a testament to what we can achieve when we work together, and what we can accomplish for the next 100 years.” An online Centennial Celebration page on EBMUD’s website includes historical photos and documentary films along with a flip book of vintage EBMUD utility truck posters, including this one from the 1950s.