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Water-main leak may be source of chlorine in creek

Here is an update on creek-related matters from Friends of Five Creeks:

Thanks to (Councilwoman-elect) Janet Abelson for the help in finding sampling sites on Cerrito Creek. We determined that the high concentration of chlorine (and lack of bacteria) in the north fork of Cerrito Creek (the creek that comes down from Sunset View Cemetery) does not come from the EB MUD filter plant -- there is no chlorine in the creek next to Colusa in the cemetery, downstream from the filter plant. The source probably is not a laundry or similar establishment, since the US EPA lab, which is testing our samples, did not find free chlorine (such as would come from bleach), but only total chlorine (which includes chloramines used by EB MUD).

The most likely source is a water-main leak somewhere near the underground stretch between Colusa and BART or a storm sewer feeding into that reach. We have informed the City of El Cerrito and EB MUD. It remains to be seen whether EB MUD will find the leak.

An El Cerrito-Albany-Richmond committee including neighbors is making steady progress on a conceptual plan for restoration and a trail along Cerrito Creek from San Pablo to Pierce. At Friends of Five Creeks urging, the City of Berkeley protected the bare south banks of Cerrito Creek north of Albany Hill with matting. This should prevent winter erosion along the finally-completed sewer main, pending further restoration and planting with natives next year. Pools stepping Middle Creek down into Cerrito Creek in a more natural way are expected to be completed by mid-November. Friends of Five Creeks remains concerned about the invasive waterweed filling much of the channel near Creekside Park. This could increase flooding (though the plants may simply "lie down" and let water pass).

Susan Schwartz, co-president, Friends of Five Creeks

See previous report below for background.

Archived Nov. 1999


Testing of Cerrito Creek finds chlorine, help needed for further study

This summer, Friends of Five Creeks began sampling local creeks for E. coli (evidence of possible sewage pollution), with the US EPA lab in Richmond doing the lab work.

On Oct. 19, we started testing Cerrito Creek, and found a surprising result. There were no bacteria at all, and a fairly high level of chlorine, where what I'll call the North Fork crosses the Ohlone Greenway, behind the tire store, south of Fairmont. This is not a good finding -- it means the creek is lifeless, and possibly harmful to life farther downstream (where the branches join at Adams Street) or in the Bay.

There are several possible causes -- for example, a water main leak, the EBMUD filter plant releasing toxic amounts of chlorine, or a business such as a laundry (which uses bleach) releasing wastewater into the creek.

To pin it down, we need sampling sites farther upstream. This is the creek that comes down through Sunset View Cemetery and the EB MUD filter plant. If you have this creek in your back yard, of if you know of a place where it can be easily reached, can you let me know?

Of course, we are also interested if you know about possible sources of pollution in this or other creeks, or if you have a site somewhere else that you would like us to sample.

Thanks for the help.

Susan Schwartz co-president, Friends of Five Creeks



Archived november 1999


Run dates: 1999-11-10 - 1999-11-22

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