Baykeeper's Monthly Column

Baykeeper publishes a monthly column on San Francisco Bay cultural, environmental, and maritime issues.
(March 2016) Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. It looks like developers are trying to fool all of us who love San Francisco Bay—twice. For the second time in less than a year, development threatens the Bay with contamination from coal. Developers are proposing to build a shipping terminal at the site shown at right on the shore of Mare Island Strait in Vallejo. They may be...
(February 2016)                       What happens in the Bay doesn’t always stay in the Bay. Case in point: Sand mining companies are digging up too much sand from the floor of San Francisco Bay, making erosion worse at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. The erosion threatens sensitive shorebird habitat, a major sewer line and the Great Highway. Excessive sand mining causes harm inside the Bay, too....
(January 2016) What’s ahead for San Francisco Bay in 2016? Here are the top pollution threats Baykeeper foresees in the year to come, plus ways we’re fighting to stop these threats. Oil Spills. The large number of container ships and oil tankers on San Francisco Bay create a constant risk for oil spills. But now the oil industry is upping the risk, by pushing to ship millions more barrels of oil...
(December 2015) This winter is forecast to bring heavy rains to the Bay Area. But no matter how much rain falls, it’s unlikely to end the current drought. So here are some things we can all do to help protect San Francisco Bay from the surge of pollution that comes during the winter rainy season, including some tips that also help fight drought.  One serious winter pollution problem for San...
(November 2015) This year, record numbers of starving seals and sea lions have washed up on California beaches, including those in the Bay Area. In recent months, hundreds of young common murres—sea birds that look like small penguins—have been discovered dead or dying on beaches in more than a dozen Bay Area locations. Scientists believe global climate change is negatively altering the supplies...
(October 2015) Tiny plastic balls too small to see, fragments of plastic bottles, plastic pellets used in manufacturing—they’re all in San Francisco Bay. It’s an invisible problem that harms swimmers and sea life, but help is on the way. In a victory for a cleaner Bay, a new law passed by the California Legislature bans one major source of this pollution—plastic microbeads in personal care...
(September 2015) What would the San Francisco Bay be like if toxic coal dust blew into its waters every day? Would fish grow abnormally? Would shellfish be laced with arsenic? Would toxic pollutants in fish harm people who rely on the Bay as a food source?  We could soon find out, if the export of coal from a planned Oakland shipping terminal is approved. And that’s why Baykeeper is working to...
(August 2015) What if the Bay Area had no beaches where our kids could play, no wetlands protecting our shorelines and no more smelt swimming in our waters?  Every year, millions of cubic feet of sand and mud—enough to fill the Transamerica Building ten times—are dredged up from the floor of San Francisco Bay. But dredging methods that are currently used contribute to erosion of the Bay’s shores...
(July 2015)                       While out on a run the other morning, I passed by a house with lawn sprinklers going full blast. Water was running down the driveway, down the street and into the gutter. I might have knocked on the door to chat about the severe drought crises facing California, but it looked like no one was home. Because many people are having similar experiences in their...
(June 2015) What happens when we use consumer products like facial scrubs, toothpaste and medications? Some of them end up in San Francisco Bay. Wastewater that goes down your toilet, sink and shower drain is sent to a wastewater treatment plant that removes many toxic pollutants. But some contaminants are not removed and enter the Bay via treated wastewater, which harms water quality and...

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