East Bay utility facing legal action after Moraga bridge damaged in landslide


East Bay Municipal Utility District is facing some legal trouble.  

The town of Moraga is suing the utility for allegedly not taking responsibility for damage caused by landslides back in 2017.

Moraga town officials are giving the town’s attorneys the green light to file a lawsuit against the East Bay MUD.

The subject of that lawsuit is the Canyon Road Bridge.

In a closed session held June 12, town officials authorized legal action stemming from landslides that damaged the bridge back in 2017.

Town officials allege East Bay Mud isn’t taking responsibility for the damage their landslides caused to the old and temporary bridges or the increased design and construction costs of the new bridge.

They also claim that East Bay Mud’s alleged failure to fix the issues on their property is “jeopardizing the town’s ability to receive funding and move forward with plans to build the new bridge here.”

In April 2017, the bridge was shut down after heavy rains triggered a landslide, cracking the pavement and affecting its support.

In November of that year the bridge reopened as a temporary, single-lane bridge.

Since then, the town says they’ve had continuous discussions with East Bay Mud, none of which have been successful

KRON4’s Sanaz Tahernia spoke with Andrea Pook from East Bay Mud. 

In a statement, the utility company said, 

EBMUD is disappointed to learn that the Town of Moraga has authorized its legal counsel to initiate litigation over landslides that occurred adjacent to Moraga Creek in 2016 and 2017. EBMUD and the Town of Moraga have been, and are continuing, to discuss an acceptable resolution to the problems caused by these natural disasters.

This area has a long history of landslides unrelated to Moraga Creek. Evidence and data developed by EBMUD indicate that the landslides that occurred below Augusta Drive in “Moraga in 2016 and 2017 arose from natural conditions for which EBMUD is not responsible.

Records indicate that the Moraga Country Club development on Augusta Drive was built in a known landslide area and that in the course of development known natural drainages and creeks were filled. The 2016 and 2017 slides were the result of poor drainage and heavy rains that saturated the soils on the Augusta Drive hillside as historic natural drainages were no longer available.

Studies by EBMUD also establish that EBMUD flows did not contribute to the slides. During dry months, EBMUD occasionally moves water from the Moraga Pumping Plant to the Upper San Leandro Reservoir using Moraga Creek to make water available to customers. 

The flows in the creek during these dry month transfers are significantly lower than flows from urban runoff discharged into the creek through storm drains during winter storms.

Records dating back to the 1970s show that EBMUD warned the Town of Moraga that urban runoff caused by the then-planned development could significantly change the characteristics of the creek.

The impacts of these flows and the resulting erosion were part of a study commissioned by the Town of Moraga in 1981, which showed that the creek has fundamentally changed due to storm events, and recommended that the Town take measures to protect the creek banks.

Like the Town of Moraga, EBMUD has sought emergency funds to repair the hillsides affected by the landslides. Unfortunately, EBMUD has not received final approval for these funds in a timeframe that would allow for coordination with the Town’s Canyon Bridge project.”

She says the landslides arose from natural conditions for which east bay mud is not responsible.

Pook went on to say that like the town of Moraga, East Bay Mud has sought emergency funds to repair the hillsides affected by the landslides. 

Unfortunately, East Bay Mud has not received final approval for these funds in a timeframe that would allow for coordination with the town’s Canyon Bridge Project.

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