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U.S. EPA presents prestigious national award to Oakland, Calif. water district

Release Date: 10/26/2004
Contact Information: Laura Gentile (gentile.laura@epa.gov) - 415/947-4227 (desk) or 415/760-9161 (cell)

East Bay district selected out of 1,500 municipalities nationwide

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency presented the East Bay Municipal District in Oakland, Calif. with a first-place award today for its outstanding and innovative achievements in wastewater treatment and pollution prevention.

Alexis Strauss, the director of the EPA's water division for the Pacific Southwest region, will present the national award to the Board of Directors President Frank Mellon at today's board meeting at 1:15 pm at 375 11th Street in Oakland.

"This award is significant and well-deserved national recognition of the district's impressive and effective efforts to reduce the amount of toxic pollutants entering San Francisco Bay from industry and businesses," said Strauss. "The progress they have made in encouraging local businesses to adopt pollution prevention and water conservation practices will go far in helping to restore our precious natural resources."

"This is recognition of the tremendous amount of effort EBMUD makes to prevent pollution at the source," said David Williams, director of the district's wastewater department. "It's important that we keep toxics from ever getting into wastewater, because once they get in they are very difficult to remove."

"The district deserves to be commended for implementing innovative and effective source control measures that have resulted in reducing toxic pollutants to the San Francisco Bay," said Bruce Wolfe, executive officer of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. "The water board congratulates the district on receiving a national award for its outstanding program."

The EBMUD has been a national leader in adopting innovative strategies to protect the environment and to encourage pollution prevention. The district has focused their efforts primarily on pollutants, such as mercury, that impact the San Francisco Bay. Through a mercury reduction pilot program developed with the University of California's Berkeley campus, the district collected over 1,000 pounds of mercury waste last year, including 300 pounds of elemental mercury.

Last year the district required dental facilities that handle mercury to install equipment that would remove up to 95 percent of the mercury before discharging to the wastewater treatment plant.

The EBMUD has encouraged industries to eliminate discharges of wastewater containing toxics. As a result of these efforts, more than 64 percent of the industries recycle or evaporate their wastewater, resulting in no discharges of polluted wastewater to the public sewer system.

The EBMUD treats wastewater received from more than 13,000 commercial and industrial facilities in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. In addition, the EBMUD serves water to more than 1.3 million customers.