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March 6, 2018 > Union Sanitary District Centennial Stories

Union Sanitary District Centennial Stories

Submitted By Michelle Powell

?Why are you called Union Sanitary District?? USD staff members hear this question multiple times every day. We also hear: ?Do you do garbage pickup?? (Not us) ?Are you a department in the City of Union City?? (No, we?re not) ?Then who are you and why do you have that name??

Union Sanitary District (USD) is a California Independent Special District. Independent special districts are voted into existence by the citizens they serve and perform specific local government functions within certain boundaries under California Law. USD was formed in 1918 to protect public health and the environment by providing the services of collecting, treating, and disposing of wastewater from residences, businesses and industries. We?re proud to deliver this very complex, highly-regulated service to our communities.

Why do we have ?Union? in our name? We?ve wondered ourselves, and our 100th birthday sparked a search for information. Popular folklore told us the District was named after The Union, a steamship that docked at a landing near the Bay. Although our Union City treatment plant is close to the site of the landing, the area was not within USD?s boundaries in 1918.

Further research revealed a document describing our founding as a ?union? of wastewater services for the towns of Centerville and Newark. Early boundaries included those townships, and the USD?s first sewer lines were laid at the intersection of Hickory Street and Wells Avenue in Newark.

The first meeting of USD?s Board of Directors was held at the home of Louis Ruschin on Thornton Avenue in Newark. Subsequent meetings were held in the Stevenson Building on Main Street in Centerville, now part of Fremont. The description of USD?s original service area and the location of its Board meetings make the Centerville/Newark ?union? theory the most likely basis for our name.

USD was one of several sanitary districts located in what became the Tri-Cities. Over time, they all merged into USD. Following are the names of local districts and the year they joined USD:

1949 Niles Sanitary District
1954 Decoto Sanitary District
1956 Irvington Sanitary District
1962 The City of Union City, served by Alvarado Sanitary District, annexed to USD

USD utilized Newark and Irvington Sanitary Districts? treatment plants after consolidation, enlarging and improving them beginning in 1947 and 1959. Our current 33-acre Union City treatment plant, built in 1963 and upgraded and expanded many times over the decades, has grown to encompass the site of the original Alvarado Sanitary District plant.

The Federal Clean Water Act of 1972 was a catalyst for construction of twin 12.5-mile long force mains, each about 3 feet in diameter, from the Irvington and Newark plants to the Union City treatment plant. When they were completed in 1980, all flows were combined and transported to our Union City plant, which now had the capacity to serve the entire Tri-City area. The Newark and Irvington plants were phased out, and USD?s Newark and Irvington pump stations were constructed on the sites. The pump stations remain important components of our transport system today.

Union Sanitary District shares history with the towns that came together to become Fremont, Newark, and Union City. The joining of separate wastewater agencies created a utility that provides reliable, cost-effective service to the Tri-Cities today.

Be sure to visit our Centennial Open House at our Union City Treatment Plant from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on May 19, 2018, to see images from our history and enjoy family-friendly activities, displays, demonstrations, plant tours, and refreshments. We?d love to share our birthday celebration with you.

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