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Founded in 1989, San Francisco Baykeeper works to reverse the environmental degradation of the past and promote new strategies and policies to protect the water quality of the San Francisco Bay. For more than two decades, Baykeeper has been the premiere watchdog of the water quality of San Francisco Bay.
Using the many tools at our disposal – advocacy, water quality monitoring and science, on-the-water patrols, public education and, when necessary, legal action – we compel polluters to stop contaminating our waterways and hold government agencies accountable for safeguarding and restoring the waters that belong to all of us. Baykeeper fills a unique water quality niche in the Bay Area by acting as the watchdog for the Bay and enforcing clean water laws in order to protect and restore the watershed.
The mission of Baykeeper is to protect and enhance the water quality of the San Francisco Bay for the benefit of its ecosystems and human communities.
Baykeeper was founded in 1989 as the fourth "waterkeeper" organization in the nation and the first on the west coast – on the principle that our waterways are common property, owned by all who use and enjoy them.The "Waterkeeper" concept dates back to a 19th century English tradition. Riverkeepers were the wardens of private streams, assuring that the waters were healthy, well stocked and free of poachers. In 1982, fishermen concerned about pollution of their beloved Hudson River started the first Waterkeeper program in the United States. The fishermen saw polluters as modern day poachers. The Hudson Riverkeeper proved so effective at stopping the theft of our public resources that Waterkeeper programs quickly spread across the nation's rivers, lakes, bays, sounds and coastal waters.
Today, the International Waterkeeper Alliance, headed by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., is nearly 200 programs strong, making it one of the world’s fastest growing environmental movements. Each Waterkeeper organization enforces the provisions of the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA) and other federal and state laws. The CWA states that individuals have the right to stand in the shoes of the United States Attorney in order to stop those who pollute our waterways in violation of the CWA. Despite the passage of environmental water quality laws, government agencies do not have the resources necessary to protect our national waters by themselves. Therefore, Waterkeepers work closely with agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, to accomplish mutual goals.
We are one of twelve members of the California Coastkeeper Alliance, a non-profit organization that coordinates, supports and enhances the work of local California Waterkeepers in order to ensure Californians enjoy clean water and a healthy coast.