The Bayside Groundwater Project is proposed by
the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) as one of many solutions to
protecting San Leandro, San Lorenzo, and parts of Oakland from droughts. While the concept of drought mitigation is a noble cause, it is
critically important that all citizens be aware of whether or not the project
itself is sound. The Heron Bay Task
Force is a group of concerned residents who have united together to stand
opposed to the Bayside Groundwater Project due to the critical issues which negatively impact the surrounding residential communities and environment.
What The Project Proposes To Do
Take clean drinking water, add chlorines, and
inject up to 15 million gallons daily down into deep underground
aquifers that are beneath the homes of San Leandro and San Lorenzo
residents. The process is described below. Click on the following picture
visualize the process.
- The water is first cleaned and treated at an
existing treatment facility to become high quality drinking water.
- Rather than sending this clean drinking water
to your home, the water is
piped to the Bayside Project area, next to the Ora Loma Sewage Treatment
- The Bayside Project area is located above
known contaminants (waste oils, gasoline products, MTBE, etc.) in the shallow
aquifer. EBMUD has no plans to remove these contaminants that may pollute
your drinking water.
- 15 million gallons daily will be injected into
the ground through deep wells; this daily volume is equivalent to a swimming pool the size
of a football field over 40 feet deep. (Extraction process is
- The deep aquifers are approximately 700
feet underneath the ground surface.
- Your drinking water stored in the deep
aquifers may become contaminated from the contaminated shallow aquifers. EBMUD recognizes that these contaminants may pollute the Bayside
water supply through migration to deeper zones through improperly abandoned
wells, a potential contamination source as confirmed by EBMUD's own findings
during testing of the contaminated deep aquifer near the Oakland Coliseum
(per EBMUD's study titled "Regional Hydrogeologic Investigation South
East Bay Plain").
Up to 30 million gallons daily will be
pumped from beneath the homes of San Leandro and San Lorenzo residents (see
number 4 in the picture above). Extracted waters will be processed through aeration towers that
will blow radon and chloroform, known cancer causing substances, into the air
adjacent to the San Leandro and San Lorenzo residential communities.
- Up to 30 million gallons daily volume will be
pumped from the ground through deep wells; this daily volume is equivalent to a
swimming pool the size of a football field over 80 feet deep.
- Four aeration towers are proposed (see number
7 in the picture above). These
aeration towers will only transfer the cancer causing pollutants from the water to the air
(large fans in the aeration towers blow air through the water).
pollutants are not neutralized or cleansed by the aeration towers; the
just dumped onto the San Leandro and San Lorenzo residents to breathe.
- EBMUD’s Draft Environmental Impact Report
(DEIR) states that up to 3,700 pounds
of chloroform will be emitted annually, over 100 times more than the Bay Area Air Quality
Management District's toxic trigger level of 36 pounds annually.
- EBMUD omitted a lifetime chloroform cancer
risk study from the original DEIR. This study confirms the increased cancer
risks that the nearby residents will be exposed to. This study was only shared with the public (after values were
changed by EBMUD) once nearby residents expressed outrage at a 2001 public
comment meeting that the cancer
risk study was omitted by EBMUD.
Click here to see the location of the
Bayside Groundwater Project.
PROJECT ISSUES/NEGATIVE IMPACTS
- Subsidence (Ground-sinking)
- The massive volumes of water (up to 30
million gallons daily) pumped from
the deep aquifers may cause the ground to sink beneath the residential
and business communities of San Leandro and San Lorenzo.
- An independent California Registered
Professional Engineer investigated the Bayside Project and confirmed
that subsidence, caused by EBMUD wells, “may cause major and
irreparable damage to the homes located within the [Bayside] Project”.
- The United States Geological Survey (USGS)
confirms that subsidence can 1) damage private and public buildings,
2) change elevations and slopes of streams, canals, and drains, and 3)
damage bridges, roads, railroads, storm drains, sanitary sewers, and
- The USGS confirms that subsidence can
cause tides to move into low lying coastal areas that were once above
high tide levels.1 The Heron
Bay Community and much of San Leandro and San Lorenzo lie only a few
feet above sea level and may be subjected to flooding caused by the
Bayside Project’s subsidence.
- The USGS confirms that subsidence can be
stopped by switching to surface water supplies (rather than pumping from
the ground).1 EBMUD does
have surface water drought supplies available, such as the Freeport Project.
Click here to learn
about the Freeport Project which will fully meet EBMUD's drought needs.
- Flowing Abandoned Wells
- The Regional Water Quality Control Board
reports that “in the range of 15,000 wells were drilled in the East
Bay Plain between 1860 and 1950... many were 200-500 feet deep with the
deepest reaching 1000 feet below the ground surface...2 Most
of these wells have been abandoned but were not properly destroyed."
- The USGS also claims that within the
Rodgers well field (former name of Bayside Project Area), there are at
least 12 to 15 abandoned wells that may extend down to the deep aquifer.3
- EBMUD recognizes that their process of
injecting water into the ground may cause these abandoned wells to flow
or bubble-up to the ground surface. These flowing wells may carry
the known contaminants in the shallow aquifer to the ground surface,
exposing residents to the hazardous contaminants (waste oils, gasoline
products, MTBE, etc). On page 3.8-24 of the
Bayside DEIR, EBMUD states that “these [abandoned] wells may remain flowing
until identified and modified.”
- These flowing abandoned wells may flood
and damage homes and businesses.
- San Leandro, San Lorenzo, and EBMUD customers
south of High Street in Oakland will receive a lower quality of drinking water than
what they currently receive now from the Sierra snowpack (currently stored in surface
reservoirs, e.g., lakes).
- The Bayside groundwater will contain higher
levels of arsenic and radon than other EBMUD sources (EBMUD DEIR, Table
- The Bayside groundwater has the potential to
become polluted from the confirmed contaminants (MTBE’s and other gasoline
components) in the shallow ground water through abandoned wells. Click
here to see reported hazardous material releases within 1 mile of
the Bayside Project area (EBMUD DEIR, Figure 3.4-1).
- The Regional Water Quality Control Board
reports that "some of these [abandoned] wells may pose a current threat
to the East Bay Plain because they provide a potential vertical pathway for
contamination to migrate into the deeper zones."2
- EBMUD did not disclose in the Bayside DEIR
that the South East Bay Plain Ground Water Basin Deep Aquifer (same aquifer
as the Bayside deep aquifer) has already tested positive for contamination
only 6 miles from the Bayside Project. EBMUD’s own study titled “Regional Hydrogeologic Investigation
South East Bay Plain” records this contamination of the deep aquifer and
states that the contamination may have migrated to the deeper zones through
improperly abandoned wells.
Health (Air Quality)
- EBMUD proposes to transfer the pollutants in
the ground water (chloroform, radon, etc.) into the air using a process
called aeration, using aeration towers.
- The aeration towers are surrounded by
residential communities, including elementary schools and high schools.
- The aeration towers will emit up to 3,700
pounds per year of chloroform (cancer causing pollutant) into the air, which
would make the Bayside Project the highest toxic chloroform emissions
facility in all of the Bay Area (per the Bay Area Air Quality Management
District's Toxic Air Contaminants 2000 Annual Report; the current highest
level is 2,500 pounds per year). Note that the Bay Area Air Quality
Management District's toxic trigger level is at 36 pounds annually.
- Pollutants will be blown into nearby
communities, schools, and businesses, who will then have increased risks of
- EBMUD omitted a lifetime chloroform cancer
risk study from the original DEIR. This study confirms the increased
cancer risks that the nearby residents will be exposed to. This study
was only shared with the public (after values were changed by EBMUD) once
nearby residents expressed outrage at a 2001 public comment meeting that the
cancer risk study was omitted by EBMUD. Note that EBMUD's study still
does not reflect the toxic effects of the EBMUD sites closest to residential
neighborhoods and schools. Click here
to see the chloroform cancer risk contours of the EBMUD aeration towers and
their impact on homes and schools near the Bayside Project. Click
here to see the Heron Bay Task Force's public comment letter that
further describes this cancer risk study including documentation of EBMUD's
altering of the cancer risk values during the DEIR public review/comment
YOU CAN HELP
To learn more about what you can do to help stop
the Bayside Groundwater Project, please click here.
- "Land Subsidence from
Groundwater Pumping," USGS
- "East Bay Plain
Groundwater Basin Beneficial Use Evaluation Report," San Francisco Bay
Regional Water Quality Control Board
- "Source, Movement,
and Age of Groundwater in the San Leandro and San Lorenzo Alluvial Cones of
the East Bay Plain Groundwater System," USGS