East Bay Municipal Utility District Engages the Community One Tour at a Time
The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) Wastewater Treatment Plant Tour Program has provided free tours for residents and students to learn about wastewater treatment and EBMUD’s protection of public health and the San Francisco Bay. The guided tours are led by a diverse group of EBMUD employees, including operators, engineers, and administrative staff. Often fully booked and given excellent reviews, the tours aim to engage the community and promote pollution prevention.
The Tour Program provides an opportunity to educate the public on EBMUD’s sustainability practices and learn about the beneficial byproducts EBMUD produces through wastewater treatment such as electricity via anaerobic digestion, recycled water for irrigation and nutrient-rich biosolids for agricultural land application. At the plant headworks, tour attendees are shown the consequences of flushed wipes and personal care products that must be screened out and discarded from the wastewater flow. Attendees are also taught the proper way to dispose of pharmaceuticals, and fats, oils and grease (FOG). EBMUD maintains pharmaceutical disposal bins throughout the service area and provides free FOG scrapers for use in the kitchen. The Program also provides EBMUD employees the opportunity to develop public speaking skills, network with colleagues and learn from others.
EBMUD has grown the Tour Program from 400 participants in 2016 to over 1,000 participants in 2019. Tours experience high demand from repeat and first-time visitors, are booked early and continue to receive positive feedback. The Tour Program can be replicated by other wastewater agencies—all the essential information about the Tour Program is available on the EBMUD website, including an attendee waiver release form.
Last month, at NACWA’s Winter Conference in Atlanta, the Tour Program was recognized with a National Environmental Achievement Award in the Public Information & Education - Educational Program category. Congratulations to the EBMUD and everyone involved!