At EPA headquarters, salt ponds aren’t water

Apr 15, 2020

In a bizarre act of make believe, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) team in D.C. is claiming that pond water isn’t water. EPA recently decided that the Redwood City salt ponds are land and therefore don't deserve Clean Water Act protection. This is contrary to findings by the EPA's regional San Francisco office. 

The ponds used to be wetlands. If the surrounding levees were removed, the area would return to its natural marshy state. EPA’s decision is a thinly veiled attempt to prevent this from happening, and to allow Cargill—the ponds’ corporate owner—to bypass Clean Water Act safeguards and turn this potential wetland into a parking lot.

Cargill is also setting the stage for costly future disasters since, if developed, the salt pond area would be vulnerable to constant flooding due to sea level rise. Wetlands, on the other hand, would provide a natural buffer to rising seas for existing communities and a home for endangered species.

That’s why Baykeeper is suing the Trump administration and fighting to overturn this decision.

But if Trump’s EPA decision stands, it would set a precedent for corporations to pave other parts of the Bay, including salt ponds in Newark. So we’re partnering with Save the Bay, Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge, and Committee for Green Foothills to defend this part of the Bay. We’re determined not to let the Trump administration bend our vital clean water laws to allow Cargill to destroy critical Bay wetlands.

The South Bay salt ponds, pictured, are the brightly colored ponds that you can see out the window of a plane flying over the Bay Area. Image by Autonomous Imagery.

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