East Bay Municipal Utility District Works to Improve Forest Health

By on December 16, 2019

The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) and Sierra Foothill agencies have joined forces to combat the threat of wildfires in and around Mokelumne River Watershed dense overgrown forest, which is where the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD)’s primary source of water comes from. The project aims to improve resilience to wildfires, protect water quality and water supplies for the East Bay area.

Fall 2019 saw 4,000 acres of forest having been treated or under contract for completion. Since the completed construction of Pardee Dam and the aqueduct system, the Mokelumne River and its watershed have been the source of EBMUD’s high-quality water since 1929.

Fall 2020  will see the third year that the Upper Mokelumne River Watershed Authority (UMRWA) will undertake its forest management work to improve forest health north of Highway 4 between Cottage Springs and Bear Valley.

Wildfires in the Mokelumne watershed would significantly impact the quality and reliability of EBMUD’s supply. Forest thinning, meadow restoration and related projects reduce that threat. Some of the related projects include maintaining the snowpack longer into the summer season improves the water supply downstream. Having crews restore meadows to improve water quantity and quality, creating space between healthy, mature trees to reduce the spread of fires, enhances water saturation into soils, and slows the evaporation of winter snowpack.

All of these great projects are made possible through grants from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and other partners. Grant funding was provided by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, an agency created by the State of California, under the Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1) and the California Drought, Water, Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection, and Outdoor Access For All Act of 2018 (Proposition 68) grant cycles and in support of the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program.