Nearly 250 million gallons of sewage entered San Francisco Bay and surrounding waterways during the recent rainy season. In the East Bay, more than 230 million gallons of partially treated sewage were released as wet weather overflows from ten East Bay cities with crumbling sewer pipes. Sewage spills from around the Bay Area have resulted in more than 11 million gallons of raw sewage and contaminated storm water reaching local waterways.
Every winter, rain overwhelms the Bay Area's crumbling sewer infrastructure, leading to spills and overflows that harm water quality, wildlife and Bay recreational users. There are more than 100 collection systems, 40 treatment plants and 17,000 miles of publicly owned sewer pipe in the Bay Area – and these systems are in very poor condition. Most were built in the 1950s and 60s and are now in dire need of upgrades and repairs.
As part of our Sick of Sewage Campaign, Baykeeper has taken legal action against sewage polluters in order to compel upgrades and repairs to stop spills. Since 2008, Baykeeper has achieved successful settlements in fourteen cities and sewer districts around the Bay, and we are happy to report considerable improvements and reduced spill numbers from these systems:
- Burlingame reduced its number of sewage spills from 23 in 2007 to 12 in 2010, and rehabilitated 11,500 feet of sewer mains in four locations throughout the city.
- Burlingame Hills reported only 5 spills and is scheduling preventative maintenance work to address problem areas.
- Hillsborough reported 17 spills in the areas covered by our settlement agreement, down from 47 system-wide in 2008.
- Millbrae reported 34 spills this year, compared to 79 spills in 2008.
- Richmond is progressing on its sewer line repairs and has lowered its number of spills. The city continues to suffer from large spills, however, and we're now examining possible solutions. The City also continues to implement its Private Lateral Sewer Replacement Program offering financial assistance to residents and businesses to replace private sewer laterals.
- San Carlos reported 27 spills, down from 65 in 2008. San Carlos is ahead of schedule on its compliance requirements, thanks to the City's more frequent cleaning and maintenance efforts.
Baykeeper recently reached settlement agreements in the East Bay and with South San Francisco that will help to considerably reduce sewage spills to local waterways across the Bay Area. We look forward to reporting similar successes for these cities next year.
We have been tracking all of this year's sewage spills on our online interactive map. This map indicates the number of sewage spills, total volume, and total volume recovered within a given sanitation district in the San Francisco Bay Region of California's Regional Water Quality Control Boards. Hover over a point to learn a little about the spill performance of sanitation districts throughout the Bay Areas or click here to see the map on a separate page.