50,000 Gallons of Raw Sewage Spills Into Oakland Estuary

Aug. 26, 2020

A power outage caused approximately 50,000 gallons of raw sewage to spill into California’s Oakland Estuary.


An estimated 50,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled during a power outage at the East Bay Municipal Utility District wastewater treatment plant in West Oakland, California.

Boaters are being warned to stay away from the Oakland Estuary as result, reported the Mercury News.

The spill occurred after power outages between 5 and 7 p.m., ordered by the California Independent System Operator, caused a pump to fail, according to the district.

“This power outage caused failure of major equipment at the wastewater plant, including the ability for EBMUD to generate its own power on-site,” said EBMUD. “Power outages like this are quite uncommon. During Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events we normally get notice, but this outage occurred very quickly.”

The main wastewater treatment plant in West Oakland received no power from for about two hours. The outage resulted in major flooding at the pump station, which transports sewage from the East Bay to the plant for treatment, causing a backup.

District employees worked through the night to restore pumping capacity at the plant and stored excess sewage in storage basins, according to EBMUD spokeswoman Andrea Pook.

Flows exceeded the storage capacity before full operations could be restored and raw sewage was discharged into the estuary for approximately ten minutes, reported the Mercury News. Initial estimates reported 100,000 gallons were spilled.

EBMUD discharged partially treated wastewater from its San Antonio Creek Wet Weather Facility to mitigate the issue, according to city officials. Signs were posted along the estuary about the spill and the district reached out to rowing clubs and others who frequent the strait between Oakland and Alameda.

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