News

Local tap water could have new taste, smell

'It's not ideal. But the alternatives are much worse,' EBMUD official says

Amid the fourth year of drought, East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) has announced that going forward there could be a change in the taste and smell of its tap water.

"Our water this year may taste and smell different than what we are used to. It's not ideal. But the alternatives are much worse," EBMUD general manager Alexander R. Coate said in a statement Thursday.

All tap water EBMUD delivers to customers will continue to meet or exceed state and federal public health standards, EBMUD officials said.

The district's water service area includes Danville, parts of San Ramon, and unincorporated communities of Alamo, Blackhawk and Diablo.

EBMUD's water supply usually comes from snowmelt and runoff in the Mokelumne River watershed and is stored at the Pardee and Camanche reservoirs in the Sierra. This year, the Mokelumne River supplies are critically low, according to district officials.

Due to state and federal regulations, the cold water sitting deep in the Pardee reservoir must be stored all summer and released downstream in the fall to improve river conditions for returning salmon, officials said.

In order to preserve the cold water at Pardee and manage the East Bay's water supply, EBMUD must switch to a higher intake valve, pumping water that's closer to the surface of the reservoir which is warmer and typically has more algae than the deeper water, officials said.

"We will put the Mokelumne River ecosystem at risk later this year if we don't take water from a higher valve in Pardee, and we would have to take drastic measures like banning outdoor water use across the entire service area all summer if we don't draw water from the Sacramento River this year. Those alternatives are even tougher to swallow," Coate said.

The valve change is set for this Sunday (May 10) and the surface water will begin to flow to two-thirds of East Bay taps starting next week, officials said.

As of last month, EBMUD has also started filling the San Pablo and upper San Leandro reservoirs with a two-month supply of water from the Sacramento River.

The local water supplier is currently negotiating for an additional two-month supply of Sacramento River water to sustain the East Bay reservoirs over the next several months. About one-third of EBMUD's customers are already receiving water retained from that supply.

The taste and smell changes in East Bay tap water are partly due to the difference in water chemistry from the Sacramento River and water from the surface of the Pardee reservoir, according to EBMUD officials.

In addition to the operational changes EBMUD is making, greater algae growth in water reservoirs will contribute to the taste and smell shift in tap water, they said.

According to EBMUD officials, the district has five water treatment plants in the East Bay, but only two of them have aeration and ozonation equipment to improve the taste and smell of water.

The other three plants -- located in Walnut Creek, Orinda and Lafayette -- were built to treat water from the Mokelumne River which has never previously required aeration and ozonation treatment, officials said.

EBMUD expects that the plants will not be able to fully reduce the taste and odor compounds associated with algae.

Coate said planned capital improvements are in progress at some treatment plants but the district can't build more treatment fast enough to make a difference in the new taste and smell customers could experience this year.

EBMUD suggests customers chill their water or use a carbon filter before drinking to improve the taste and smell.

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Comments

36 people like this
Posted by Douglas
a resident of Blackhawk
on May 7, 2015 at 5:17 pm

Enough with the damn salmon and smelt!!!! People are considerably more important than fish. I think Brown, Boxer, and Feinstein should be held accountable for this whole drought mess. If California still had the water that was released back into the ocean to "save" the smelt, water levels would not be nearly as critical. Criminal charges should be brought against all 3 of them!


Like this comment
Posted by Nebuchadnezzar
a resident of San Ramon
on May 8, 2015 at 7:15 am

That does it. I will now have beer on tap! No need to brew my own.


12 people like this
Posted by Lorax
a resident of Danville
on May 8, 2015 at 7:56 am

Aw Douglas, there's just no issue that you cannot fail to understand. We humans have built us a very big Jenga tower, and if you pull out too many supports, the whole thing will crash -- then you won't be thirsty, because you'll be dead.

Please keep Douglas aWAY from the truffula trees.


11 people like this
Posted by Carolyn
a resident of Blackhawk
on May 8, 2015 at 8:07 am

Lorax - you are definitely an idiot. Douglas - completely agree with you!!


6 people like this
Posted by Lorax
a resident of Danville
on May 8, 2015 at 8:31 am

Carolyn: you should be grateful that folks like me stand between you and a disaster born of selfishness, greed and ignorance. I'm just guessing here, but your lawn is pretty green, right?


12 people like this
Posted by Conservator
a resident of Danville
on May 8, 2015 at 8:38 am

"Wherever it flows, the river teems with every kind of living creature; fish will abound. Where these waters flow they refresh; everything lives where the river goes." Ezekiel 47:9

Oh Lord, won't you buy my 'friends' in Blackhawk at least as much maturity and wisdom as their bank accounts should afford them…They already have enough Mercedes-Benzs and Porsche's'….


11 people like this
Posted by Khloe
a resident of San Ramon
on May 8, 2015 at 9:07 am

This is life, everyone needs to learn to flow and accept change and be thankful we have water to consume at all! If you don't like the taste, by a carbon filter water bottle, you'll be fine!


10 people like this
Posted by Kevin
a resident of Danville
on May 8, 2015 at 9:16 am

Thank you 'Lorax' for saving us from destruction and certain death. And the Earth thanks you for without you, it and we would perish. Give me a break 'Lorax.' Go have a beer at 'Nebuchadnezzar's' house and stop taking yourself so seriously.

What's dumbfounding to me is amid this crisis of epic proportions they continue to build homes and bring more water users into the area. Just down the street they are cramming new townhomes into an absurdly small space on Camino Ramon. Absurd. Where is the city on this? I'm not in construction but does it not take TONS of water to build homes ? Oh wait, my bad. Money is to be made. Forge the crisis.


1 person likes this
Posted by Julia
a resident of Alamo
on May 8, 2015 at 9:42 am

Khloe...No this is not just life. Your mind thoughts are in melt down. This could have been averted if the politicians we the stupid people voted for had a half a brain.

Build the bridge China...Build the stupid train to LA..

And screw the fish...You bleeding hearts get me sick.

Douglas you are correct....
Lorax you are brain dead...
Carlyn you are also correct...
Conservator you need to get a life...The Lord couldn't care less about our water problems.

I don't if any of you remember the taste and smell of the water that came from the taps in Martinez many many years ago. It would make you vomit.

Again screw the fish and give the people what we pay for.

EBMUD you are a total failure.

The only people that are smiling are the stupid naive and WATER BOTTLERS.

WAKE UP PEOPLE YOU ARE BEING SCREWED.

And I really don't care if you are listening or not.

Julia Pardini from Alamo


4 people like this
Posted by Conservator
a resident of Danville
on May 8, 2015 at 10:26 am

Dear Julia,

The Good Lord employed his favorite fish to give Jonah a 3-day / 3-night 'vacation' to teach him a few lessons. I'm surely hopeful that you may be afforded a 3-month cruise whenever you decide it's time to swim the river Styx.

Sincerely,

Conservator


Like this comment
Posted by Julia
a resident of Alamo
on May 8, 2015 at 10:35 am

Dear Conservator...Wake up to reality and you may learn something.

Julia Pardini from Alamo


2 people like this
Posted by Lorax
a resident of Danville
on May 8, 2015 at 11:01 am

Web Link So, Ostrich Hawks -- did you find any water down there?


10 people like this
Posted by Duffy
a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on May 8, 2015 at 12:27 pm

The population of California has grown 8 million since 1972. We have eliminated 3 Dams since 1972. But we will have a high spread train to no where! This is the Democrat liberal version of good long range planning, Don't blame the Republicans they haven't run this state since 1878.


3 people like this
Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on May 8, 2015 at 2:03 pm

The TV news story on this issue (Ch. 2, KTVU, last night) didn't make any sense to me. Now I know why. In the TV story they merely said that the water would now taste and smell worse, because they were going to draw it from near the surface of Pardee reservoir, instead of from near the bottom. OK, I get that part. But there was no mention of why this was needed. It obviously wasn't directly a result of low reservoir levels, since a bottom-outlet wouldn't be affected. Now we find out that is is related to salmon.

The thing that is STILL surprising to me is that this isn't even about allocating enough water for the salmon. It's about the temperature of the water.

So I still have questions, that are independent of the issue of how MUCH water the salmon need:

- What study demonstrates the sensitivity of salmon spawning to water temperature?

- Tracking the water that is released downstream (from the cooler, bottom part of the reservoir), how quickly is the temperature of this water "normalized" to the surrounding conditions, anyway? Put another way, comparing top-of-reservoir water to bottom-of-reservoir water released from the dam, how far down river does this even make any sort of difference? I find it hard to believe that the different temperature is noticeable for more than a few miles.

- Given the above, I find it hard to believe that salmon spawning will be affected in the slightest by which level of the reservoir is used for tapping the drinking water.

- If someone wants to show me a reference, I'll read it. But in the end, I think the real issue is that the Sacramento River water doesn't taste or smell as good, and has little or nothing to do with salmon (other than the broader issue of how much water to allocate to the fish).


6 people like this
Posted by Lorax
a resident of Danville
on May 8, 2015 at 2:36 pm

Duffy: you are wrong on nearly every count.

CA pop: you -- ^ 8 million since 1972; fact: 21 million in 1972, now almost 40 million, roughly 19 million.
Dams: you -- 3 dams eliminated; fact: 2 dams eliminated (both failed, one in 1920s) AND 21 dams added since 1972
GOP: you -- last ran state in 1878; fact: a Mr. Schwartzenegger would like a word with you.

Further fact: voters approved Jerry Brown-backed water bond in 2014: $7.5 billion total, $2.7B of it for storage.

Further fact: all the good dam sites have been taken, and one Ronald Reagan removed federal subsidies for dams in 1980s. That, plus better environmental standards, accounts for the end of the big dam era.

Further fact: LA uses as much water now as it did 30 years ago, after sucking both the Owens Valley and the Colorado.River dry.

Conclusion: you wouldn't know a fact if it bit you on the butt.


2 people like this
Posted by Sir Faxent
a resident of San Ramon
on May 8, 2015 at 4:11 pm

Is there a scientist in the house?

I've always wondered, as I head down I-5, how much aqueduct water is lost to evaporation, and whether anything could be done about it. As in, maybe there's a non-lethal surfactant that could float atop the flow and be recovered, in part, at the other end of the line? I don't know that it would take much in terms of volume, to put a thin layer that would reduce such losses -- but I don't know enough to have a reasoned opinion.

So, any of you Lab or oily boys and girls know enough to hazard anything better than an unscientific WAG? Thanks!


9 people like this
Posted by The 'Hood Rat
a resident of Danville
on May 8, 2015 at 9:52 pm

No worries, kids - our children are learning all about Earth Day, Native Americans and Inclusion in public schools to prepare them for a competitive future, and furthermore we have millions of more illegal immigrants & green card holders getting 'admitted' to Social Security benefits, errr, I mean to America; and they are coming to a town near you - barely employed, underemployed or unemployed. Conclusion: look forward to lots o' congestion, chaos, and more stinky water for the hordes to share. Somewhere, a Democrat smiles.

Stay GOLDEN, ya'll ;>


1 person likes this
Posted by artsyone
a resident of Danville
on May 8, 2015 at 10:56 pm

You are absolutely right! Fish before people?! I don't think so. Also, the politicians must be in bed with bottled water companies.

Why don't people pipe water in from plentiful areas, maybe other states?


4 people like this
Posted by Button Goodwin
a resident of Danville
on May 9, 2015 at 7:14 pm

There will always be drought events in the west. Always have been, always will.

What's pathetic is that the state was held hostage by the environmentalists and a spineless/clueless/age-addled governor then and now that prevented reservoirs, dams and other measures from being implemented.

How many Californians have been to east Auburn? If you're a meth-head, sure, but guarantee that 2 million Bay Area residents will not/have not set foot there, let alone 35.5 other Californians.

The State had the wherewithal to mitigate these drought events 30 years ago but a minority of liberal, short sighted idiots prevented those solutions.

So what do we have now...a 'FAST' train from SF to LA (why anyone would want to head south is another issue) and a HUGE under ground water tunnel.

Lorax, Conservator bring it on...


2 people like this
Posted by Conservator
a resident of Danville
on May 9, 2015 at 8:58 pm

Dear Buffon,

You'll have to forgive me, what would you like me to bring?

You mentioned East Auburn. Did you mean Amador County or perhaps Calaveras? In terms of meth-heads, last I recall, I think you may have the quaint fishing communities around Pardee, Camanche and New Hogan, as well as the burgeoning wineries and vineyards in Amador with Burning Man…which would be Reno….

By the way, 30 years ago, we were 2 years into Deukmejian's two consecutive Republican terms which was followed by two additional terms from another staunch conservative (Wilson). I'm presuming that you are were of age at that time. To go back along memory lane, with the exception of Jerry's (the original MoonBeam) first stint as governor, we had the Ronnie for two terms before MB. Seems to me that they all had their fingerprints on both the building of new reservoirs or perhaps not (Web Link) over the years.

Cordially,

Conservator


4 people like this
Posted by Sam Ramon
a resident of San Ramon
on May 10, 2015 at 10:08 am

Dear Conservator: There are two 'o's in 'buffoon.' Otherwise, good comment, except that you are also engaging in 'fact-based discourse,' which is unpersuasive to The Right.

Emoting is easy. Thinking is hard. Facts are confusing.


2 people like this
Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on May 10, 2015 at 11:52 am

To Duffy, Buttonhead, and any other misinformed people who believe we can dam our way out of a drought, you really need to get educated on the subject. Your posts betray your ignorance. It is not little fishies that are doing us in. It is a century of hubris and arrogance by mankind.

There are already more than two thousand, seven hundred dams and reservoirs in this state alone - and those are just the ones with names. There are hundreds more smaller water retention projects.

What exactly - and be specific - do you think building more dams will accomplish? Almost every watershed in this state (and most states) is already plumbed completely. You ever heard of the Rubican river in the central Sierras, other than the name of a beer? No? Do you know why you haven't heard of it? Because other than the high headwaters area of the Rubican, it simply does not exist as a river anymore and hasn't for decades. How do you think adding more dams will help now when existing ones are well below their capcities, and the current drought pattern is projected to be permanent? If one dam on a given river is at 40% capacity, how will building another upstream help? Two dams at 20% - is this what you propose as a solution? I get that Foxified News zombies are not overly reliant on facts, but just give us all a hint what your so called thought processes are.

Here's a quote of a reply to a recent Salon article, by a Yuba River area resident named Jason, concerning Englebright reservoir on the main Yuba-

"I'm watching the Englebright Dam, on Caifornia's Yuba River above Marysville, nearing the end of its FERC license.
While it generates some power, it's primary service is as a debris dam to catch the erosion from the horrendous hydraulic mining sites in the Yuba watershed, of which the largest, but far from the only, is at Malakoff Diggings above the South Yuba near Nevada City.
Before the dam the mess caused bad floods downstream, messed up navigation from Sacramento to the Golden Gate, and noticeably exacerbated the Potato Patch shouls and chop outside the Gate. And landmark environmental legislation banning hydraulic mining.
And now the lake is approaching full, and is unlikely to be re-licensed."

The destructive jet and open pit mining he refers to is another sad part of our history. Yet it is not all "history" since much of it continues to this day.

In Northern CA along the 101 corridor in particular, many of the splendid Army Corps of Engineering dam projects were just stunningly ill advised. They were built in places where massive amounts of logging ensured the soft soil would silt up most dams within a decade, never ever coming close to paying the costs of those dams either monetarily or in water benefits. Large dams can and have caused earthquakes, and it's a matter of time before some of China's more grandiose projects like the one on Leaping Tiger Gorge turn into a disaster that we will remember for decades to come.

The only way out is to figure out the most energy efficient way possible to re-use water, and to stop destroying existing watersheds through logging that only further contributes to climate change. And if you think that the rare wet year (if we ever have one) will justify dam projects, you are wrong. Most dams in CA built since the 70's have never come close to recouping their costs in any way shape or form, and if/when we do have another 1982-type winter, the ground water in the central valley badly needs recharging. It won't come close to all running off to the bay, and even if it did so what? When the bays and ocean decay, we die. Period.


Like this comment
Posted by Jiminy
a resident of Diablo
on May 11, 2015 at 9:04 am

One of the surest indications that Derek's post was a beatdown: Web Link

Well done!


1 person likes this
Posted by Long Term Resident
a resident of Danville
on May 11, 2015 at 7:17 pm

Did anyone stop and think about how much less it would cost than the $90 Billion bullet train to build a water pipeline from Oregon or Washington to California. The pipeline would not even need to extend that far south into the state as it could fill Lake Shasta and some of the northern reservoirs which would then feed the existing water infrastructure. It's a lot better use of the funds than the bullet train. Folks won't agree to Keystone, but how can they disagree with a water pipeline??

We have always had periods of drought in California. The problem now is that our population has grown significantly faster than our water supply.


Like this comment
Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on May 12, 2015 at 8:47 am

The northwest tends to have more heavy rain periods than we do, but folks from WA and Oregon are not fond of "Californicators" as it is, so I don't know how they will feel about us stealing their water. Maybe we can send Arnold up as an ambassador!


Like this comment
Posted by Frans
a resident of Danville
on May 13, 2015 at 4:30 pm

He vill pomp zem out!


Like this comment
Posted by Artsyone
a resident of Danville
on May 14, 2015 at 7:08 am

HA! HA! The last three of you said it best!


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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