Bay Area Wastewater Leader Dave Williams Has Passed Away

By Roni Gehlke, Members in the News

Some may have retired to a life of golf and relaxation after spending more than 40 years as a civil engineer and serving as the Director of Wastewater for the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) in Oakland. However, Dave Williams felt he still had more to give. Before retiring in 2013, Dave decided to run for Contra Costa Sanitary District’s (Central San) Board of Directors.

In 2010, he won a seat on the Board and continued to serve until his passing on March 1, 2023.

“Dave has served Central San, our community, and the larger water world with distinction, and we all feel the impact of this tremendous loss. Our best thoughts are with his family and friends as they try to deal with his passing.” – Roger S. Bailey, General Manager, Central San

While on the Central Sans Board, he served multiple terms as president, most recently in 2022, and served on and chairing multiple committees. Under his leadership, Bailey said, Central San maintained 100% compliance with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, worked to enhance sustainability, and expanded the use of recycled water in the community.

Dave volunteered as a CWEA—San Francisco Bay Section member, serving on several committees and as president. He was involved with several other wastewater organizations at the local, regional, state, and national levels, a further testament to his commitment to the industry and his passion for all things related to the protection of public health and the environment.

Dave served as the Executive Director of the Bay Area Clean Water Agencies for seven years. His most notable achievements include managing the nutrient science program with the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) and developing the nutrient watershed permit for the Bay Area wastewater agencies.

Staff at EBMUD remember Dave as “a thoughtful, unflappable leader who had a vision and carried it forward.” He worked for the organization from 1993 to 2013. In 1999, he set the Department on its course of maintaining perfect permit compliance for five years.

In his memory, the District’s Board announced that Dave “had such a positive impact on the culture of the department that now, 23 years later, the Wastewater Team continues to maintain perfect compliance with all effluent limits from the Main Wastewater Treatment Plant – a remarkable feat that is a testament to Dave’s lasting impact as a leader of the Wastewater Team.”

Dave was also credited for being instrumental in developing EBMUD’s Private Sewer Lateral Program, which began as a vision for implementation at a statewide level. Under Dave’s guidance, the District completed one of its largest recycled water projects, the Richmond Advanced Recycled Expansion (RARE) project. The project was a unique and innovative partnership funded by the refinery that produces up to 3.5 MGD of recycled water to offset potable water use for industrial applications, benefiting EBMUD and its customers.

David holds a bachelor of science degree in Civil Engineering and a master of science in Civil/Sanitary Engineering from Purdue University, as well as an MBA from U.C. Berkeley.

“He played many other influential roles where he made a meaningful difference to the water and wastewater industry of the Bay Area,” said his son, Eric Williams, in his obituary. “Including testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives regarding Bay Area water issues.”

Dave passed away at 73, following a battle with ocular melanoma, leaving behind his wife, Carol, and three children.