East Bay Water District Installs Backup Generators to Maintain Power at Pumps

As PG&E gears up to potentially turn off power during Red Flag Warning days, the East Bay Municipal Utility District is taking some unprecedented steps to make sure they can keep the water flowing.

EBMUD is bringing in critical backup equipment to keep their water pumps operational.

EBMUD engineer Lisa Toth says some of the water pumps in the district’s high fire risk zone could be at risk if PG&E turns off the power during a Red Flag Warning.

"Without the ability to pump water in, we could run out of water, potentially," Toth said.

"The system does rely on electricity to get water where it’s needed and when it’s needed," EBMUD spokeswoman Andrea Pook said.

But with the possibility of public safety power shutoffs this year, the water district didn't want to take any chances. EBMUD will soon bring in 29 portable generators to critical pumping stations across the East Bay to make sure they can keep water flowing even during a lengthy power outage.

“While we can’t predict what will happen this fire season, we can and must prepare our facilities to fulfill our duty to customers," EBMUD Board President Marguerite Young said in a statement. "What we do now will save critical response time should we lose power."

With so many hilly areas in Contra Costa and Alameda counties, having a backup plan is a must. Customers and firefighters depend on it.

"We need to be able to move water up hills to have water for firefighters and for our customers," Pook said.

EBMUD says it will cost the district $409,000 to rent the big generators. It plans to keep the generators at the high-risk pumping stations through the peak fire season, which runs August through November.

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