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What's New


Union Sanitary District Workers Recover Flushed Wedding Ring

August 2015

USD's Collection Services workers have had a banner year in the jewelry rescue department. For the second time in nine months, they have recovered a treasured ring thought to be lost forever in a sewer line.


Recently, Kathy Darling of Fremont watched helplessly as her wedding ring swirled down her toilet and out of sight. Taking a break from housecleaning, she had removed her ring and set it on top of a tissue box for safekeeping, but forgot about it long enough to use tissues, flush them, and realize that the ring was traveling with them.


After a plumber televised Kathy’s lateral with no luck, Kathy called USD Collection Services Supervisor Rich Czapkay, who dispatched Collection System Workers Rob Shenk and Steve Bullis to inspect USD’s sewer main in her street. Neighbors gathered to watch as Rob and Steve flushed the line and examined the debris that washed back. “They were both very determined to find that ring. It was a miracle when they came to my front door and Rob took the ring from his pocket,” wrote Kathy in a thank-you letter to the District. “I couldn’t stop hugging them.”


“I thought she was going to faint when I showed her the ring,” said Rob. “I wondered if I was going to have to open her screen door and catch her.” Kathy and her husband Bob offered the workers a reward, which they declined. “Just seeing the looks on their faces was reward enough,” said Rob.


Kathy and Bob arrived at a Collection Services 7:00 a.m. crew meeting with home-baked cookies and cakes for the entire work group. Kathy topped a cake with a fake diamond ring, and read her thank you letter aloud to everyone’s applause. “I never, ever thought they would find the ring,” said Kathy. “They brought a perfect conclusion to a traumatic situation.”

Bob and Kathy Darling with USD's Rob Shenk and Rich Czapkay


Notice of Public Hearing - Fiscal Year 2016 Sewer Service Charges

June 2015

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that pursuant to Sections 5471 and 5473, et seq. of the Health and Safety Code of the State of California and Union Sanitary District Ordinance No. 31, the Board of Directors of Union Sanitary District will consider adoption of Ordinance No. 31.38 which establishes Sewer Service Charges for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2016. The District has elected to collect its charges for sewer services on the tax roll, in the same manner as general taxes.

The District has filed a written report with the Secretary of the Board of Directors describing each parcel of real property subject to the charges and amount of the charges against that parcel for fiscal year 2016. The report is on file and available for inspection at the District's offices at 5072 Benson Road, Union City, California.

NOTICE IS FURTHER GIVEN that on Monday, the 13th day of July 2015, at the hour of 7:00 p.m., or as soon thereafter as the matter may be heard, at the Union Sanitary District Boardroom, 5072 Benson Road, Union City, California, in said District, the Board will hold a hearing on the collection of sewer service charges on the property tax roll. At the hearing, the Board of Directors will hear and consider all objections or protests, if any, to the District's report. Any questions regarding the charges may be directed to the Business Services Manager at (510) 477-7500.

Publish dates:  June 30, 2015

                       July 7, 2015

By order of the Board of Directors of Union Sanitary District

Link to notice with Board signature

To read more about USD's rates, see the sewer service charges page on this website.


USD Awards Certificates of Merit to Tri-City Industries

May 2015

USD honored 32 Tri-City Industries that achieved 100% compliance with water quality requirements in the 2014 calendar year. The District annually awards Certificates of Merit to those permitted industries within its service area that maintain 100% compliance with all wastewater discharge requirements. In addition, these industries consistently comply with and implement pollution prevention measures, maintain a cooperative working relationship with the District, and demonstrate continuing awareness and understanding of environmental issues and requirements. Several of the recipients received this honor for consecutive years of continued compliance.

The District is responsible for permitting, inspecting and monitoring certain industries that discharge to its sewer system to ensure compliance with Federal, State and Local environmental regulations. This is done not only to protect the treatment plant from toxic discharges, but also to protect the water quality of San Francisco Bay.


USD's Certificate of Merit honorees:

(number in parentheses notes consecutive years receiving award)

Amphenol Thermometrics, Inc. Intematix Corporation (3) Quality Transport, Inc. (5)
Analog Semiconductors (21) Intevac, Inc. (6) Quantum Clean #2 (8)
Applied Thin-Film Products (9) Kaiser Permanente Hospital - Fremont (2) Seagate Technology LLC #3 (3)
Bay Area Circuits, Inc. Lam Research CA/3 (4) Soraa, Inc. (3)
Clean Sciences, Inc. Lam Research CA/30 (6) Tri-Cities Recycling & Disposal Facility (10)
Clean Sciences Technology Microwave Technology, Inc. (4) Washington Hospital Healthcare (2)
Compugraphics USA, Inc. Neophotonics Corporation (9) Western Digital - Fremont #1 (2)
Enablence USA Comnponents, Inc. (5) Nitinol Devices & Components, Inc. (3)  
Finisar Corporation (12) Pantronix Corporation (10)  
Britech Electropolishing, Inc.  Matheson Tri-Gas, Inc. (5)  
Union City
Electrochem Solutions, Inc. (2) Star Pacific, Inc. (4)  
Royal Truck Body (5) United States Pipe & Foundry Company  


Thank You For Visiting USD's Open House!

We enjoyed hosting over 1,100 visitors on Saturday, May 9, 2015. It was great to share a bit about the work we do for you, and show you the equipment and processes we use to protect public health and the environment 24/7/365. Customers toured our plant and Greeen-Energy projects, and experienced interactive demonstrations of the specialized vehicles and equipment used to maintain the plant, seven pump stations and over 800 miles of sewer lines in the Tri-Cities.

We especially enjoyed all of the wonderful kids who participated in our activities. Our engineers, chemists, plant operators, mechanics, electricians, business services personnel, and more came up with fun ways for kids to learn about our work. We heard from many happy parents about our great educational displays and games, and we very much enjoyed seeing so many smiling faces. Thanks for taking the time to visit our facility and talk to our staff. It was our pleasure to get to know you.



USD's Latest Newsletter Is In The Mail

Our newsletter will be in Tri-City mailboxes this week. Learn about our May 9, 2015 Open House, our exciting new cogeneration facility that makes use of renewable energy, tips to help you care for the environment and your sewer laterals, and USD's budget information. A pdf copy is linked below if you'd like to share a copy with your friends:

Union Sanitary District Spring 2015 Newsletter

If you have any questions about the newsletter or need more information, call USD at (510) 477-7500.


USD Employees Recover Family Heirloom Flushed Into Sewer

November 2014

A grateful Union City family got an early Thanksgiving gift when Collection Services Workers Johnny Powell and Victor Vasut recovered a priceless family heirloom that had been flushed down a toilet six weeks earlier.

When Mehvish Tapal couldn't find the ring that had been in her husband's family for 60 years, she asked her three year old son if he had seen it. "Mama, I flushed it down the toilet," the boy replied. "It's gone. It's really, really gone!" The frantic family called a plumber to televise their lateral without success. Mehvish then called USD for help.

USD crews stopped into Mehvish's neighborhood after completing their regular work assignments on three different days, as they traveled back to USD's Union City plant in their service vehicles. They were about to give up when it appeared on November 14th.

"It's rare to find something like this. It's like a needle in a haystack," says Collections Supervisor Shawn Nesgis. The ring traveled a third of a mile from the Tapal home, down streets and around corners as it tumbled toward a larger line, where recovery would have been impossible.

The happy family called the media to express their appreciation after picking up the ring at USD's offices in Union City. To see the KTVU news story, follow this link.


Johnny Powell (left) and Victor Vasut show off the ring they rescued.

USD's Safe Medicine Disposal Information is in ACWD's Fall Newsletter

November 2014

The Alameda County Water District (ACWD) recently sent its Fall Newsletter to all residences and businesses in the Tri-Cities. The newsletter includes information about USD's FREE Safe Medicine Disposal locations. USD partners with Washington Hospital Healthcare System and Hallers Pharmacies to provide dropoff sites for safe disposal of expired and unwanted medications. Read about our program and Tri-City dropoff locations on Page 2 of ACWD's Aqueduct newsletter, and on our website. If you have any questions about safe medicine disposal, call USD at 510/477-7639.


USD Wins Peak Performance Platinum Award

October 2014

Union Sanitary District (USD) has received the “Peak Performance Platinum Award” from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA.) The Platinum Award recognizes the District’s achievement of 100% compliance with its regulatory permit requirements for five consecutive years, 2008 through 2013. These permit conditions are in place to protect the water quality of San Francisco Bay.


USD has been recognized by NACWA for 21 continuous years since the award program began in 1993. “The Platinum Award is an honor that reflects our ongoing commitment to protect public health and the environment,” says David Livingston, Plant Manager. “The combined efforts of all District employees, particularly our plant operators, mechanics, electricians, laboratory staff, engineers and environmental compliance staff, made this achievement possible.”



General Manager Paul Eldredge notes that “USD’s highly trained, dedicated staff is the reason for our success. They keep the facilities running smoothly, and they work hard to prevent harmful materials from being discharged to the sewer by businesses and industries in our service area.”

USD Welcomes New General Manager

August 2014

USD is pleased to announce that Paul Eldredge has joined the District as its General Manager. Paul was chosen to replace Richard Currie, who has served as USD’s General Manager since 2003 and will retire in September after a 23-year career at the District.

Paul comes to USD from the City of Brentwood, where he served as City Manager for three years. Prior to that, he held the positions of Assistant City Manager, Assistant Public Works Director, Assistant City Engineer, and Associate and Senior Engineer. In total, his career at the City spanned 17 years.

“I have always been partial to wastewater management and engineering,” says Paul. “USD has a world-class workforce that is dedicated to protecting public health and San Francisco Bay, and I look forward to leading an organization that is known as one of the best-managed Districts in the United States.”

Paul holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Colorado State University. He is a graduate of California State University Sacramento with a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering and is a Registered Civil Engineer in California and Hawaii. He has lived in the Bay Area since 1997.

“Paul’s involvement in the development of Brentwood’s infrastructure, including a tertiary treatment facility and several pump stations, and his experience as a City Manager with strategic planning, budget preparation and labor negotiations make him a great fit for USD,” says Richard Currie. “Paul is a hard worker and has a positive attitude. He shares many of our organization’s values, including providing great service to our customers, enhancing the environment, and ensuring that our ratepayers’ dollars are spent wisely.”



We're Redesigning Our Website

August 2014

The District is in the process of redesigning our website to better serve our customers. In order to know more about what you would like to see on the website and how you would like to interact with us, we held focus groups over a period of several months. These groups provided many great ideas that we plan to incorporate into an easy-to-navigate, visually appealing format.


USD has many types of customers. We work with residential, commercial and industrial customers from the Tri-Cities. We provide educational presentations to elementary and high schools in our service area, and sponsor pollution prevention programs such as safe medicine disposal locations. We inform residents and businesses about proper disposal of Fats, Oil and Grease (FOG) to maintain healthy sewers, and promote less-toxic gardening to safeguard our creeks and Bay. All of our programs help us to fulfill our mission of protecting public health and the environment. We look forward to organizing information so that each customer can easily find what is most important to them.


The District has released a Request for Proposals to website design firms. A project of this size and complexity requires that we take time to answer questions from potential vendors to ensure that they understand what we are looking for and can deliver at a fair price. We will then evaluate proposals and thoroughly check references before awarding the contract. We anticipate completing the selection process by November of 2014. Once the project is underway, it will take four to six months to design and test the new site before it “goes live” in the Spring of 2015.


We’re excited to plan a website that provides you with opportunities to more easily communicate and work with us, and that will help you to know more about the great work we do for the Tri-Cities!


Wipes Clog Pipes!

Visit For Info About Wipes and Other Pollution Prevention Tips

Information on about "flushable" wipes and their effects on sewers and the environment deserves attention. Below are some interesting facts about wipes from BayWise - check the website for more details (and to view a very funny "Can't Flush This" video from the United Kingdom!)

Many consumers use disposable wipes because they're convenient for cleaning and disinfecting. Even people who would not normally embrace disposable products because of concern for overburdened landfills are using wipes that are being marketed as "flushable." They don't toss them in the trash; they flush them down the toilet, believing they've done the right thing.


"Flushable" Wipes Should NOT be Flushed

The "flushable" label simply means they will go down your toilet when flushed. What you should be concerned about is what can happen next.

Unlike toilet paper, disposable wipes (even those labeled "flushable") do not quickly disintegrate in water. Consumer Reports tested several brands of wipes labeled "flushable" and found that while toilet paper disintegrated after about eight seconds, the wipes still hadn't broken down after 30 minutes.

These products stay largely intact as they travel through sewer pipes and can easily get caught on roots or other debris, increasing the risk of clogs and sewage overflows. As disposable wipes grow in popularity, sewer agencies are being forced to commit additional resources to removing mounds of wipes clogging up public sewer lines, pumps, and treatment facilities.

While USD has not experienced significant problems with wipes at our plant and pump stations, their increasing popularity is a concern. Disposable wipes are an even greater threat to your home's sewer pipe, which is much smaller and more easily clogged. In addition to potentially causing clogs and overflows, many of the cleaning and disinfecting wipes contain chemicals that are difficult for sewer treatment plants to remove, and they can thus pollute local waters.  

If you use disposable cleaning/disinfecting wipes, moist towelettes, baby wipes, personal hygiene wipes or similar disposable or "flushable" products, put them in the trash, never in your toilet. Only human waste and toilet paper should be flushed down your toilet. If you have questions about wipes, call USD at (510) 477-7621.


USD’s Jose Rodrigues Wins Statewide Collection System Worker of the Year Award

Collection System Worker II Jose Rodrigues has received the statewide “Collection System Worker of the Year” award from the California Water Environment Association (CWEA). “Jose’s leadership skills and contributions to USD’s training and maintenance programs are very deserving of this recognition,” says James Schofield, Collection Services Supervisor. “He consistently displays a ‘can do’ attitude that makes him a great co-worker and representative of our District.” Jose is the first USD employee to win this award.

USD owns and maintains over 780 miles of sewer lines in the Tri-Cities. The District’s Collection Services Workers clean, inspect and repair lines daily to help ensure continuous, uninterrupted service to our customers. They also complete connections to our system for new construction, mark utilities for digging, and respond to customer trouble calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Protecting human health and providing professional service to our customers is an important job,” says Jose, who joined the District in 2003. “I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned throughout the years with others, and I strive to be someone that a new person in the collection services field can look up to.”

Jose’s accomplishments include helping to develop and construct an overflow estimating training station at the District’s Alvarado Treatment Plant in Union City, and presenting technical training to USD employees and outside agencies. He contributes as a subject matter expert to the District’s award-winning training program, helping to develop tools for measuring competencies and instructing classes. He has also presented workshops at CWEA conferences and other industry events.

CWEA is the California industry association for wastewater professionals, with about 9,000 members statewide. Jose initially won the regional Collection System Worker of the Year award in January 2013 for CWEA’s San Francisco Bay Section, which includes over 1,600 members in Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Francisco counties, plus a portion of San Mateo County. The regional award automatically qualified him to compete at the statewide level. The competition is based on accomplishments and contributions to the wastewater industry.


Get Tips For Fats, Oils & Grease Disposal at!


USD has a web page with information to help you dispose of Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) properly, and avoid costly, messy sewer backups in your homes and neighborhoods. Check out our tips at, where you can learn how to keep a delicious meal from turning into a messy disaster! See for a printable Tip Sheet, or read it here!


USD Wins Purchasing Award

USD recently won the National Purchasing Institute’s (NPI) Achievement of Excellence in Procurement Award. The award recognizes the District’s Materials Management Team for demonstrating excellence in the principles and practices of procurement. This is the sixth consecutive year that USD has received the award. USD is one of only 29 Special Districts in the United States and one of only 40 government agencies in California to achieve the award for 2012.


USD obtained high scores in 19 different performance areas evaluated by the NPI. The criteria are designed to measure innovation, professionalism, e-procurement implementation, productivity, and leadership attributes of the procurement arm of an organization.


“Our Materials Management Team is dedicated to obtaining goods and services that provide the best value to USD and our customers,” says Richard Cortes, Business Services Manager. “They also continue their proactive involvement in the District’s emergency preparedness efforts, strategic planning and use of technology to increase efficiency. This award recognizes the many contributions they make to help the USD fulfill its mission to protect the Tri-Cities and San Francisco Bay.”


Our Alvarado Wastewater Treatment Plant Gives Award-Winning Service 24/7/365

Did you know that you own Digesters, Aeration Basins and Clarifiers? Those are just a few of the 53 facilities, buildings and structures at our Alvarado Treatment Plant in Union City. Our annual sewer service fees from customers like you help us to maintain those structures and thousands of pieces of equipment that are used to treat 26 million gallons of wastewater at our 33-acre facility every day.

The original treatment plant at this location was built in 1962 to handle Union City's wastewater. A regional facility for Fremont, Newark and Union City was built here and went online in 1981. It has undergone several upgrades and expansions as the Tri-Cities have grown. We operate 24/7/365 to protect public health and the environment for our customers, because wastewater never stops!

USD recently received the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) Gold "Peak Performance Award" for the 2011 calendar year. The Gold Award recognizes the District's achievement of 100% compliance with its regulatory permit requirements for an entire year. These permit conditions are in place to protect the water quality of San Francisco Bay. We're proud to receive this acknowledgement of our commitment to environmental protection.

There are many things involved in giving award-winning treatment to the wastewater we receive! Here are some highlights of what we use every 24 hours:

  • 1,120,000 gallons of water - 98% of which is recycled.

  • 49,000 kilowatt hours of electricity - about 2,000 times what is used in a typical home. We produce 18% of our electricity ourselves, decreasing our daily bill from $5,505 to $4,671.

  • 1,000 gallons of chlorine bleach solution - to disinfect treated wastewater. Our bleach is about 2.5 times stronger than Clorox.

  • 789 miles of pipeline to get the wastewater from all the homes and businesses to USD.

  • 450 gallons of polymer chemicals to improve treatment efficiency.

  • 770 gallons of ferrous chloride - a purplish-brown liquid containing lots of iron - to reduce corrosion and improve treatment.

Would you like to tour the plant? Call (510) 477-7500 to set up an appointment.

USD's Financial Information Is On The Web

You can view information about USD's finances online! Learn about where our revenues come from and the types of expenditures we make to ensure the continuation of our award-winning, reliable service to our customers. See how our charges stack up against other utility bills, and compare our rates to other Bay Area agencies and communities.

To View The District's Financial Information, click here