"Bingo!" USD Workers Recover Flushed Wedding Ring

It’s a triple-crown win for Union Sanitary District (USD) Collection Services workers: They recently recovered a treasured ring thought to be lost in a sewer line – the District’s third ring rescued in recent years.

Union City customer Bonhellita Ancona left the District a distraught voicemail noting she’d lost the wedding ring she’d worn for 74 years down her toilet several days previously. “If it’s found, please, please let me know,” she said in her message.

When Collection System Workers Johnny Powell and Chris Ybarra inspected the sewer main in her neighborhood the next day, their remote-controlled maintenance camera revealed the ring caught on a bit of debris. The cleaned-up ring was then reunited with its grateful owner.

Bonhellita’s son Leonard Ancona addressed USD’s Board of Directors at a recent meeting to thank staff members on behalf of his mother. He described working in Bonhellita’s yard as Powell and Ybarra tried to retrieve the ring, then hearing one of them call out “Bingo!” “An incredible find or a miracle was truly witnessed,” said Ancona. Hearing of two other rings rescued by Collection Services workers in previous years, Ancona smiled and concluded, “the trifecta is complete.”

“The steep terrain of the street and slope of USD’s main lines at that location make the ring a very lucky discovery considering it was lost many days earlier,” said Collection Services Manager Jose Rodrigues. “We’re glad to return something that means so much to the owner and family."


Tri-City Storm Event Contacts & Resources

The National Weather Service reports a major storm to impact the Bay Area with excessive rain, flooding and high winds in effect Wednesday, January 4 and Thursday, January 5, 2023. Following are resources for the Tri-City area:

In case of emergency, call 9-1-1
Weather Updates: https://www.weather.gov/
Live Road Updates: https://511.org/
Sign up for Alameda County Emergency Alerts: https://member.everbridge.net/453003085612570/login

Alameda County Water District
Report Water Main Breaks: 510.668.6500

Union Sanitary District
Report Sanitary Sewer Emergencies: 510.477.7500

City of Fremont:
Fremont News with winter storm update:
Sandbag Pickup Locations:
Fallen Tree and Debris (on side of road):
Public Works: 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (510) 979-5700
After hours: Fremont Police Non-Emergency (510) 790-6800, ex 3.
Flood and fallen tree/obstacles in middle of road:
Fremont Police Non-Emergency (510) 790-6800, ex 3.
Report a traffic signal outage:
City of Fremont's Transportation Engineering (510) 494-4745 or email transportationengineering@fremont.gov

City of Newark:
News and information – notes city facilities currently closed:
Public Works information:
Newark Service Center:
During regular business hours: 510.578.4806
Police Department’s non-emergency line: 510.578.4237
https://www.newark.org/departments/city-of-newark/business-hours (see news and information link for closed facilities)

City of Union City:
Submit a Union City Public Works Service Request and Reporting Form:
Public Works: 510.675.5308
Union City Corporation Yard Front Parking Lot – 34650 7th St.
(Limit five pre-filled bags per Union City household)

PG& E:
Report a downed power line:
Report a power outage: https://pgealerts.alerts.pge.com/outagecenter/

Alameda County Flood Control & Water Conservation District:
Alameda County Public Works Agency:
Alameda Creek and Flood Control Channels
Road Closures: https://www.acpwa.org/about-us/roadclosure.page
Prepare for Winter Storms & Sandbag Locations: https://www.acpwa.org/prepare-for-winter-storms.page 


USD Receives COVID-19 Fiscal Relief Funding from State

USD will receive $1,569,183 in COVID-19 fiscal relief funding from the state to address impacts to its budget while maintaining 24/7 wastewater collection and treatment operations for its Fremont, Newark, and Union City service area during the health emergency. The funding is made available from a $100 million allocation provided by the State Legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom in the 2021-2022 State Budget and will be distributed by Alameda County in early 2022.

“As an essential service to the community, USD is dedicated to providing continuous daily operations with no interruptions and remained so during the pandemic,” said General Manager Paul Eldredge. “Staff worked hard to modify schedules and complete critical work in the safest ways possible. We appreciate this support from the state to alleviate unanticipated costs USD incurred during the health emergency as we strive to keep rates as low as possible for our customers.”

This funding arrives after special districts across California experienced budget and staff impacts as a result of the COVID pandemic. Throughout 2020 and 2021, California’s special districts provided essential services to their local communities, maintained a large portion of the state’s critical infrastructure, and employed thousands of front-line workers, but initially received none of the COVID relief funding available to cities and counties.

“Special districts are addressing our biggest statewide challenges, all at the local level,” said Neil McCormick, CEO of the California Special Districts Association (CSDA). “We applaud Governor Newsom and our Legislature for recognizing this and responding to our requests for partnership.  Special districts make a difference throughout California and this funding will make a difference in the communities special districts serve.”


USD Issues Bonds to Finance Infrastructure Projects

USD recently sold bonds to fund $110 million in capital improvement projects that will renew and replace aging infrastructure, enhance wastewater treatment processes, and increase resiliency of District facilities to extreme weather events and climate change. The funds will be applied to USD’s extensive Capital Improvement Program (CIP), which is estimated to be over $1.1 billion dollars over the next 20 years. Financing CIP projects spreads these large costs over a period of time to help stabilize rates for customers.

The interest rate on USD’s 30-year bonds is 2.02%. “Prior to the bond sale, the District received new credit ratings,” said General Manager Paul Eldredge. “This resulted in an upgrade from S&P to a AAA rating, which led to savings from the anticipated interest rate of 2.44%. Over the 30-year life of the bonds, the lower interest rate will save the District over $17.3 million dollars.

“USD’s ability to take advantage of historically low interest rates and a favorable bond market is a reflection of the District’s focus on thorough capital and fiscal planning to meet both near-term and long-term challenges,” said Eldredge. “USD’s professional and efficient operations, finances, administration, and governance resulted in favorable credit ratings and investor interest that help the District continue to provide quality service while planning for the future in a way that has the most benefit to ratepayers.”

District projects funded by the bonds will include a portion of Phase 1A of USD's Enhanced Treatment and Site Upgrade Program (ETSU), a component of the largest capital improvement program in District history. Earlier this year, the District was selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to apply for a Water Infrastructure Financa and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan with a very low interest rate to fund 49% of the ETSU program. The District's bonds will also fund additional improvements at USD's Union City treatment plant and its pump stations in Newark and Irvington. 


U.S. EPA Selects USD for Low-Cost Financing

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that USD is eligible for $198 million in low-cost financing from the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program for the District's Enhanced Treatment and Site Upgrade (ETSU) Phase 1 Projects. USD's ETSU Phase 1 program is one of 55 projects in 20 states invited to apply for funding that will facilitate $12 billion in water infrastructure according to U.S. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

“This is great news for the District as we move forward with ETSU’s critical projects,” said USD Board President Tom Handley. “Federal financing is essential to supplement ratepayer investments in USD’s extensive infrastructure program that will help protect the San Francisco Bay, preserve capacity for a growing Tri-City area, and manage the effects of a changing environment.”

“The WIFIA process is highly competitive, and it is an honor and testament to the outstanding work of the District’s employees and program partners to be chosen for the program’s next step of applying for low-cost loans,” said General Manager Paul Eldredge. “The District greatly appreciates the support of Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representatives Ro Khanna and Eric Swalwell during the preliminary application process. Their assistance was a vital accompaniment to the District’s initial Letter of Interest to the U.S. EPA. USD also thanks the U.S. EPA for its backing of the nation’s essential wastewater treatment projects.”

USD’s ETSU Phase 1 Projects are part of a comprehensive program to support the next 20 to 40 years of operation at its wastewater treatment plant in Union City. The Phase 1 projects include addressing aging infrastructure, improving water quality in the San Francisco Bay through nutrient removal upgrades, and hardening of infrastructure to further resiliency efforts to manage extreme wet weather. “These critical improvements will reinforce USD’s proud tradition of excellent service and stewardship of public funds for many decades to come,” said Eldredge.

Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program administered by the U.S. EPA. WIFIA’s aim is to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects. The WIFIA program has an active pipeline of pending applications for projects that will result in billions of dollars in water infrastructure investment and thousands of jobs.


USD Wins Two National Awards

USD recently received two prestigious awards from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) for accomplishments in the 2019 calendar year. The District won NACWA’s “Peak Performance” Platinum Award for achieving 11 years of 100% compliance with its regulatory permit requirements. These permit conditions are in place to protect the water quality of San Francisco Bay. USD has been recognized by NACWA for 27 consecutive years since this award program began in 1993.

Additionally, the District received NACWA’s Excellence in Management Silver Recognition honor. NACWA’s congratulatory letter noted USD’s “commitment to sustainable and successful programs that exemplify the attributes of an effectively managed utility.” The District’s strategic planning, financial management, infrastructure performance, employee development, and operational optimization efforts were some of the many considerations leading to USD’s receipt of the Silver Recognition. NACWA represents public wastewater and stormwater agencies of all sizes nationwide.

“These honors reflect the commitment and hard work of the entire District staff,” said General Manager Paul Eldredge. “USD is proud that our dedicated employees work collaboratively every day to provide the highest level of service to customers and protection of the environment. They are the reason for our success.”



Learn More.

5072 Benson Road

Union City, CA 94587-2508

usd logo bottom

Copyright 2016-2024 Union Sanitary District | Search | Site Map | Designed by Formula Design