Our Field Investigator, Cole, recently received an unusual report to our pollution hotline: a tipster claimed that after concerts and basketball games, cleanup crews around Chase Center were washing debris like trash and confetti straight into storm drains that lead to San Francisco Bay.
Chase Center has a capacity of nearly 20,000 fans. As these crowds empty onto the sidewalk after nightly events, they generate significant amounts of litter.
In many parts of San Francisco, this wouldn't be a problem. Most of the city's storm drains connect to a combined treatment system that removes trash and pollution from runoff before discharging to the Bay.
But Baykeeper discovered that the newly developed Mission Bay neighborhood, where Chase Center is located, is an outlier. Many of the storm drains in that area bypass the main water treatment system. That means that litter was being power-washed straight into the Bay—without any filtration or treatment.
So we reached out to two key agencies responsible for keeping the city's pollution out of storm drains: the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and the Regional Water Quality Control Board.
"The Mission Bay developers failed to coordinate with these agencies to prevent pollution from entering the Bay," says Cole. "This is a prime example of how a lack of government oversight can result in real impacts on the Bay."
After we followed up on the hotline tip, SFPUC conducted an on-site investigation and contacted Chase Center facility managers. Now, cleanup crews know to avoid washing stadium debris down storm drains and install temporary covers to prevent trash from accidentally washing into storm drains.
And SFPUC and the Regional Board are now working to make sure that there aren't similar problems at other locations around Mission Bay.
So thanks to our pollution hotline tipster, the Bay will no longer face a deluge of trash from basketball fans and concert goers—and we can all give a cheer for protecting San Francisco Bay.
Do you have a Bay pollution hotline tip for Cole? Submit a report on our website.
Pictured above: Chase Center from the air, by Robb Most for Baykeeper, thanks to LightHawk Conservation Flying