Baykeeper's Monthly Column

Baykeeper publishes a monthly column on San Francisco Bay cultural, environmental, and maritime issues.
(December 2008) As fall turns to winter, many of us look forward to the holiday season and to celebrations with friends and family. Unfortunately, we at San Francisco Baykeeper have come to expect that the winter months also bring something less pleasant: sewage spills in San Francisco Bay. One cause of sewage spills to the Bay is the rain we get in the winter; during heavy rains, water...
(November 2008) On November 7, 2007, the Cosco Busan container ship collided with the Bay Bridge, spilling more than 50,000 gallons from the ship’s enormous fuel tanks and causing San Francisco Bay’s largest vessel-related oil spill in over a decade. The failure by response agencies to accurately evaluate and quickly communicate the scale of the spill allowed bunker fuel to spread...
(October 2008) Experiencing the San Francisco Bay’s amazing array of wildlife is one of the many pleasures of living in the Bay Area. Countless creatures call the Bay home, and millions of birds stop over during their annual migration. The San Francisco Bay is an important staging area along the Pacific Flyway, a migratory route used by more than 250 species of birds. These birds use...
(September 2008) Cruise through Richardson Bay, the Oakland Estuary or the sloughs near Redwood City, and you will see dozens of abandoned boats of all makes and sizes. The number of derelict boats is so extreme in the eastern reaches of the Bay that a recent Contra Costa County report indicated that the removal of 300 vessels in the past 20 years has hardly put a dent in the "aquatic...
(August 2008) California is currently in the midst of a severe drought. Our streams and rivers are carrying only about 40 percent of their average water flow, and smoky skies have clouded the Bay Area for weeks as wildfires born of dry conditions rage in nearby communities. As the summer stretches on with no relief in sight, we’re reminded of how important healthy waterways are for our...
(July 2008) Welcome to summer in the Bay Area: the fog is rolling, the Bay is crowded with windsurfers, swimmers and sailors, visitors fill tour boats and residents are flocking to shoreline parks and beaches for picnics and playtime. Summertime gives us all a chance enjoy recreation on or near the Bay. At this time of year, I am often asked, “Is it safe to play in the Bay?”  And my...
(June 2008) Many people were surprised by recent headlines about the collapse of the Chinook salmon fishery in California.  The Bay has been an essential throughway for one of California’s last remaining salmon populations, which is the anchor for the state’s still-substantial commercial fishing industry.  In fact, the Bay Area’s local fishing economy is part of the $200 million...
(May 2008) I have a fairly standard morning routine: I shower, wash my hair and apply moisturizer, then have breakfast. It’s an average morning that I am sure is similar to many people’s – but I’m guessing that few of us consider our morning routines to have a direct impact on local water quality. When I leave the house to catch BART, I leave behind traces of my routine. My body did...
(April 2008) Bay Area storm drains tie into our creeks and empty into the Bay without any treatment or filtering. So when it rains, the cigarette butts, automotive fluids, pet waste, household gardening chemicals, and trash accumulated in gutters is washed into local creeks and the Bay. In fact, polluted rainwater accounts for the largest source of pollution to the Bay. Any material or...
(March 2008) On January 31, heavy rains and operator error caused an overflow of sewage at a treatment plant in Marin County. More than 2.7 million gallons of partially treated sewage spilled out of the plant and into Corte Madera Creek, which flows into Richardson Bay. This was the second spill to occur in one week; only six days earlier, the same sewage treatment plant discharged...

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