The stories below describe how DSRSD plans and invests for the future, works to continually increase savings and efficiency, and protects public health and the environment.
Click Archived News for stories more than six months old.
Clean Water Permit Renewed for Safe Wastewater Disposal
Situation: On average, 10 million gallons of wastewater flows into the DSRSD treatment plant every day from Dublin, south San Ramon, and Pleasanton. In summer, nearly all of it is recycled into irrigation water for the Tri-Valley. But in cool seasons, DSRSD cleans the water and then releases most of it into San Francisco Bay. To discharge even a single drop into the bay, the District must have a special permit and follow regulations that protect natural waterways and public health.
Solution: In 2017, DSRSD successfully renewed its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. This critical license translates the general requirements of the federal Clean Water Act into specific regulations that govern the District’s wastewater treatment and disposal.
For example, the permit allows DSRSD to discharge up to 17 million gallons of “effluent” (clean wastewater) a day, which is the maximum capacity of its treatment plant. The permit also sets limits for specific pollutants such as metals, toxic chemicals, harmful micro-organisms, organic matter, suspended solids, and "pollutants of emerging concern” such as personal care products.
In addition, NPDES permits specify how the effluent can affect “receiving waters”—prohibiting temperature changes, for example. Chlorine, which is added to prevent bacterial growth in export pipelines, must be removed from the effluent before it enters San Francisco Bay.
DSRSD collects and analyzes hundreds of water samples every year to ensure it is meeting all requirements. The District reports results at frequent intervals to the California Water Boards, which implement federal clean water laws in the state.
Photo: The Tri-Valley’s clean wastewater travels to San Francisco Bay in a 16-mile pipeline built by LAVWMA, a partnership among DSRSD and the cities of Pleasanton and Livermore. The water flows into a dechlorination facility in San Leandro operated by EBDA, another partnership of East Bay utilities. EBDA discharges the water through an 11-mile pipeline into the deepest part of San Francisco Bay. Photo of San Leandro Marsh: ©Ronald Horii
Controlling Sources of Pollution
Many pollutants cannot be easily removed during wastewater treatment. Public wastewater agencies also must develop and enforce pretreatment and pollution prevention programs that control pollutant sources.
For example, the District’s industrial customers must follow special procedures to dispose of wastewater that contains toxic chemicals. Automotive businesses must keep motor oil and solvents out of drains. Restaurants and other commercial kitchens must divert fats, oil, and grease (FOG) to grease interceptors because FOG is a leading cause of sewage overflows.
DSRSD renews its NPDES permit every five years. The application process is open to public scrutiny, and environmental organizations often file protests with state regulators. However, DSRSD’s 2017 application was uncontested, and the California Water Boards relaxed the frequency of some required monitoring based on DSRSD’s history of sound compliance.