Baykeeper's Legal Actions to End Sewage Spills

Fewer sewage spills are draining into San Francisco Bay from local cities and sewage districts, and even less will be spilled in the future, as a result of Baykeeper’s Sick of Sewage campaign. San Francisco Baykeeper has used the citizen suit provision of the federal Clean Water Act to compel upgrades to 20 cities in the Bay Area, leading to major progress in cleanup of sewage contamination of the Bay.

Below are successful settlements reached as a result of Baykeeper’s Sick of Sewage campaign.

Oakland, Berkeley and seven more East Bay cities, March 2011, Final Agreement, July 2014

Area covered: Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, Piedmont, and the Stege Sanitary District, which serves Kensington, El Cerrito and the Richmond Annex section of Richmond.
Sewage spills prior to Baykeeper action: Yearly massive discharges of rainwater mixed with partially treated sewage, including more than 125 million gallons discharged into the Bay during winter 2010-11.
Sewage system upgrades secured: Major upgrades to replace outdated pipes and infrastructure that will gradually reduce, then eliminate, releases of rainwater mixed with undertreated sewage into the Bay.

Read more about Baykeeper’s joint action with the US EPA to reduce sewage pollution from East Bay Cities.

West Bay Sanitary District, January 2012

Area covered: Menlo Park, Atherton and Portola Valley, as well as portions of Woodside, East Palo Alto and unincorporated areas of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
Sewage spills prior to Baykeeper action: More than 300 spills over six years, resulting in more than 60,000 gallons of sewage flowing into local creeks, sloughs and city drains connected to San Francisco Bay; pollution of popular recreation areas and spawning grounds for threatened steelhead trout.
Sewage system upgrades secured: After Baykeeper filed suit, West Bay invested more than $8 million to upgrade its sewer system, adopting many of our expert recommendations and reducing its sewage spill rate by two-thirds. The District plans to spend another $11 million over the next ten years to inspect the system and replace faulty pipes in order to reduce sewage spills to the Bay.

Read more about Baykeeper's successful settlement with West Bay.

San Bruno, July 2011

Area covered: San Bruno
Sewage spills prior to Baykeeper action: Recurring yearly spills, including more than 9,000 gallons in one rainy season.
Sewage system upgrades secured: San Bruno must reduce spills over the next ten years and make improvements in operations and maintenance practices to meet or exceed industry standards.

Read more about Baykeeper’s successful settlement with San Bruno.

South San Francisco, March 2011

Area covered: South San Francisco
Sewage spills prior to Baykeeper action: Recurring yearly spills.
Sewage system upgrades secured: South San Francisco agreed to reduce spills over the next five years and make improvements in operations and maintenance practices to meet or exceed industry standards. South San Francisco will also make $300,000 in grants to eligible homeowners for replacement of household sewer lines that contribute to sewage spills.,
Sewage system upgrades completed: March 2013.

Read more about Baykeeper’s successful settlement with South San Francisco.

Read more about South San Francisco's completion of sewer system upgrades and reducing pollution to the Bay.

Millbrae, July 2010

Area covered: Millbrae
Sewage spills prior to Baykeeper action: Frequent spills totaling thousands of gallons of raw sewage every year.
Sewage system upgrades secured: Millbrae agreed to make major collection system improvements; repair pipes on a set schedule; and clean sewage pipes more frequently to prevent blockages from congealed grease and tree roots. Millbrae will also provide financial support for property owners to replace broken household sewer lines and subsidies for measures such as rain barrels and permeable paving to reduce the flow of contaminated storm water runoff from streets and parking lots.

Read more about Baykeeper’s successful settlement with Millbrae.

San Carlos, February 2010

Area covered: San Carlos
Sewage spills prior to Baykeeper action: Frequent yearly spills totaling thousands of gallons of raw sewage every year.
Sewage system upgrades secured: San Carlos agreed to spend tens of millions of dollars on system improvements and a study to identify capacity problems.

Read more about Baykeeper’s successful settlement with San Carlos.

Hillsborough, July 2009

Area covered: Hillsborough, a satellite system that sends sewage to Burlingame for treatment.
Sewage spills prior to Baykeeper action: Poor maintenance contributed to frequent spills and problems downstream at the Burlingame plant, including illegal discharges into the shallow waters near the popular windsurfing area, Coyote Point.
Sewage system upgrades secured: Hillsborough agreed to upgrade its system to achieve dramatic reductions in sewage spills by 2014. Hillsborough will also establish a program to provide low-cost loans for residents to replace failing sewer pipes.

Read more about Baykeeper’s successful settlement with Burlingame area cities.

Burlingame Hills, July 2009

Area covered: Burlingame Hills, a satellite system that sends sewage to Burlingame for treatment.
Sewage spills prior to Baykeeper action: Poor maintenance contributed to frequent spills and problems downstream at the Burlingame plant, including illegal discharges into the shallow waters near the popular windsurfing area, Coyote Point.
Sewage system upgrades secured: Burlingame Hills agreed to upgrade its system to achieve dramatic reductions in sewage spills by 2014, and educate residents about how they can help reduce sewage spills.

Read more about Baykeeper’s successful settlement with Burlingame area cities.

Burlingame, August 2008

Area covered: Burlingame
Sewage spills prior to Baykeeper action: Frequent overflows causing untreated sewage to flow into homes, creeks and the Bay; illegal sewage discharge pipe at the popular windsurfing area Coyote Point, used during large storms.
Sewage system upgrades secured: Burlingame agreed to substantially improve its sewage infrastructure over ten years, including stopping all spills during normal storm events, spending tens of millions of dollars to make collection system improvements and undertaking a study to identify capacity problems and eliminate near-shore discharges.

Read more about Baykeeper’s successful settlement with Burlingame area cities.

Richmond, October 2006

Area covered: Richmond
Sewage spills prior to Baykeeper action: 17 million gallons between 2003 and 2006.
Sewage system upgrades secured: Richmond agreed to invest $25 million worth of capital improvements to its treatment and collection systems; provide funding to local residents to repair privately owned household sewer lines; and offer rebates to low-income individuals paying increased taxes for the system upgrades.

Read more about Baykeeper’s successful settlement with Richmond.

East Bay Municipal Utility District, September 2005

Area covered: Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, Piedmont, Kensington and El Cerrito
Sewage spills prior to Baykeeper action: Yearly massive discharges of rainwater mixed with partially treated sewage.
Sewage system upgrades secured: The District agreed to establish a panel of experts and community members to identify solutions for reducing its discharges of partially treated sewage.

Vallejo, June 1999

Area covered: Vallejo
Sewage spills prior to Baykeeper action: Tens of millions of gallons of untreated sewage spilled to area creeks and the Bay.
Sewage system upgrades secured: Vallejo agreed to invest in sewer system upgrades to end sewage spills to the Bay.