Baykeeper Update

Excessive Sand Mining Risks Further Erosion of Ocean Beach

San Francisco Baykeeper is urging the State Lands Commission not to approve a large increase in sand mining in San Francisco Bay. Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey have found that sand mining contributes to the erosion of Ocean Beach, and increased sand mining would exacerbate the problem.

Sand miners dredge the floor of the central Bay to collect sand to be used locally to make concrete. Sand from the Bay is normally washed out the Golden Gate and some is deposited on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. The beach is already eroding; further erosion could threaten the Great Highway and a major city sewer line.

Sand is washed down into the Bay each year from rivers and the Delta, replenishing the supply. Baykeeper is urging the State Lands Commission to set sand mining limits that keep the resource from being depleted, but so far the Commission has refused to consider this option.

On October 19, the State Lands Commission will decide whether to approve the Final Environmental Impact Report for the San Francisco Bay and Delta Sand Mining Project, which permits a 43% increase over the amount of sand removed from the Bay between 2002 and 2007.

The levels of sand mining previously allowed were already too high— they were established between 2002 and 2007, a period of intense road-building and development, when demand for Bay sand was unusually great. Moreover, in recent years demand for local sand has dropped, due to a preference for sand imported from British Columbia.

Baykeeper is urging the State Lands Commission to:

  • Use accurate numbers for determine how much sand can be extracted from the Bay.
  • Follow the advice of leading scientists and regulators, including the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, who have called for further study of the role of sand mining in the erosion of Ocean Beach.

Baykeeper will continue to advocate for protection of Ocean Beach from erosion and prevention of unsustainable sand mining in the Bay.