Two recent San Francisco Baykeeper victories will help significantly reduce sewage spills to local waterways across the Bay Area.
Baykeeper, along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California State Water Boards, reached an agreement to reduce illegal sewage spills from cities in the East Bay, including Oakland, Emeryville, Piedmont, Berkeley, Alameda, Albany and the cities served by the Stege Sanitary District, Kensington, El Cerrito and the Richmond Annex section of Richmond. These cities suffer from crumbling sewer infrastructures that send massive overflows of rainwater mixed with raw sewage to wet weather plants operated by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), which regularly discharges partially treated sewage to the Bay during the rainy season. So far this winter, more than 125 million gallons of undertreated sewage have been discharged to the Bay by polluting systems in the East Bay.
EPA brought the judicial action in December 2009 and Baykeeper joined the suit as part of its long-term effort to hold East Bay cities accountable for their leaky sewage collection systems. Under the settlement agreement, the East Bay cities must develop individual plans to repair and operate their sewage collection systems. Baykeeper aims to ensure that the cities' final timetables for repairs are aggressive and that the fixes are successful in stopping spills.
And across the Bay in South San Francisco, Baykeeper settled a separate lawsuit with the City for its sewage spills to the Bay. Under our settlement agreement, South San Francisco will reduce its spills over a five year period and improve its operations and maintenance practices to meet or exceed industry standards. The City will also fund a $300,000 grant program for eligible homeowners seeking to replace household lateral lines that contribute to sewage spills. Additionally, South San Francisco will provide $150,000 in mitigation payments to fund projects that will benefit Bay water quality.
These settlements are the latest in a series of lawsuits Baykeeper has filed as part of its "Sick of Sewage" campaign aimed at reducing the number of sewage spills to the Bay. Untreated and partially treated sewage contains pathogens that can cause a variety of illnesses and industrial wastewater that can contain chemicals harmful to the ecosystem. Baykeeper is tracking sewage spills as they happen around the Bay – check out our online interactive map of spills here.
Read the press releases on the East Bay Municipal Utility District and South San Francisco settlements. Read more about Baykeeper's work to clean up sewage spills in San Francisco Bay.