The Pulse of the Bay report, just published by the San Francisco Estuary Institute, summarizes the present state of Bay water quality and looks ahead to the possible condition of the Bay 50 years from now. The report documents the levels of pollutants found in the Bay, and examines whether the Bay’s waters are clean enough to be safe for fishing, for swimming, and to provide healthy habitat for aquatic life.
Fishing in the Bay gets only a grade of “fair,” because Bay fish have high levels of mercury and PCBs, which haven’t budged since 1994. Water quality is excellent for swimming at most Bay beaches, but the water is contaminated with pathogens at 7% of beaches in summer and 27% of beaches in wet weather.
These assessments of Bay water quality highlight the need for Baykeeper’s direct action to reduce pollution to the Bay. Baykeeper is working to rein in pollution from industrial sites, urban runoff, and sewage treatment plants. These are primary sources of the pollution that contaminates fish and Bay beaches.
The Pulse of the Bay also includes the vision of six experts about San Francisco Bay’s water quality 50 years from now. The experts envision a time when wastewater and storm water are used as resources, rather than treated as sources of pollution or flooding that need to be directed into the Bay.
Baykeeper is working for the region-wide reuse of rain water and for updated wastewater systems that allow treated wastewater to be reused. This will help keep the Bay clean, make the region more resilient to drought, and reduce strain on our water sources in the Sierras and Delta.
The Pulse of the Bay is a companion to a more comprehensive report, The State of the Estuary, which will be released at the Institute’s State of the Estuary Conference this week.