Baykeeper's E-newsletter for April 2019

Baykeeper's upcoming Earth Day events, a new hotline tip about sludge pollution, Trump's latest attack on the Clean Water Act, and more

San Francisco Baykeeper E-News
Monthly Update for April 2019
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Beat cops of the Bay

Sejal on patrol

"We're the eyes and ears on the water," Sejal Choksi-Chugh said in a recent East Bay Express feature story on San Francisco Baykeeper's role as the beat cops of the Bay.

The article covers many aspects of Baykeeper's work—from fighting toxic coal and trash pollution, to our more than 270 cases against industrial polluters around the Bay.

It also highlights how our on-the-water patrols, legal cases, and advocacy help strengthen environmental laws.

Read the full East Bay Express feature on Baykeeper.

Photo by Lance Yamamoto for the East Bay Express

Fish out of water: debunking Bay-Delta water myths


Lobbyists for industrial agriculture and big cities have warped the debate around water use in California. They claim that protections for fish are taking too much fresh water.

But the numbers tell a very different story, according to a new study from researchers including Baykeeper Senior Scientist Jon Rosenfield.

Overall, the percentage of winter and spring freshwater flows that reach the Bay has steadily declined over the past 90 years. And in the last nine years, less than 3% of additional flows made it to the Bay as a result of regulations intended to protect endangered species.

Instead, half of the Central Valley's river flows were used to supply industrial agriculture and city consumers, and a sizable fraction of Central Valley runoff flowed through the Delta to prevent salt water from contaminating water for human use. That leaves very little water to support fish, wildlife, and habitat.

Read more about the new study about Bay-Delta flows and environmental protections.

Photo by John Chacon, California Department of Water Resources

New Trump proposal poses danger to the Bay


A new proposal from the Trump administration poses a big threat to San Francisco Bay and to local drinking water. If it's adopted, the rule could erase Clean Water Act protections for streams and creeks that flow only when it rains or when the winter snow melts.

A polluter could be free to contaminate the water flowing in a creek if that creek, during another part of the year, usually goes completely dry.

When Baykeeper's staff scientist Ian Wren investigated the proposal, he found that over forty percent of the Bay Area's miles of streams could lose protection.

Many of those streams eventually lead to San Francisco Bay. Some of them supply reservoirs that are the drinking water source for millions of people in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. And some are the spawning grounds for endangered fish species, including endangered salmon.

Baykeeper and over 160 of our fellow member organizations of the Waterkeeper Alliance across the US are now working to stop Trump's destructive plan.

Map above: Streams in red and green could lose protections under Trump's proposal.

Read more about how Baykeeper is fighting the Trump administration's harmful proposal.

Tipster reports sludge pollution


In Oakland's Montclair area, a Baykeeper Pollution Hotline tipster recently spotted thick, muddy sludge running off a hillside construction site. The sludge was running into a storm drain that flows directly into Sausal Creek, which drains to San Francisco Bay.

When too much mud gets into creeks and the Bay, it can harm small bottom-dwelling creatures, clog fish gills, and interfere with fish growth and reproduction.

Plus, mud running off a construction site can be contaminated with oil and heavy metals.

Baykeeper Field Investigator Sienna Courter quickly alerted the local enforcement agency. The agency required the site operators to clean up the mess, keep the mud on the hillside, and implement controls to prevent future pollution.

If you see or suspect San Francisco Bay pollution, call Baykeeper's hotline at 1-800-KEEP-BAY (1-800-533-7229), e-mail, or go to

Read more about how Baykeeper used this Hotline tip to stop pollution.

A Green New Deal for a blue SF Bay


Our children's San Francisco Bay could be vastly different from what we know today.

Rising water levels in the Bay are likely to inundate toxic hotspots, spreading pollution. Warming waters may cause toxic algae blooms and increase disease. And extreme swings between storms and drought could strain California's already limited water resources.

The Green New Deal is a congressional proposal to address climate change and economic inequality. The ideas are being hotly debated, but the plan inspires the decisions we need to consider today for the future health of the planet.

And a few of the recommendations in the Green New Deal would benefit San Francisco Bay:

  • Allocating more resources for sea level rise adaptation – to protect vital infrastructure at risk of flooding, like the Great Highway in San Francisco.
  • Cleaning up toxic lands – to prevent the Bay Area's hundreds of hazardous waste sites from flooding and spreading toxic pollutants throughout the Bay.
  • Phasing out greenhouse gases – to switch to cleaner energy sources that won't contribute to climate change and won't pollute the Bay with coal and oil.

Read more about the Green New Deal and what it could mean for San Francisco Bay

Photo by Robb Most, thanks to LightHawk Conservation Flying.

Targeting a big threat to the Bay—highway trash

Trash bird

Bay Area roads are heavily littered with trash, and most of it gets washed or blown into San Francisco Bay. For decades, the agency responsible for keeping freeways and highways clean, Caltrans, has consistently refused to stop trash from reaching the Bay.

Local regulators recently released a plan to require Caltrans to clean up—but it applied to a only small fraction of the areas the state agency controls.

Baykeeper's scientists knew the plan would not lead to meaningful trash reductions in the Bay. We advocated for Caltrans to be required to do more.

As a result, regulators more than doubled the acreage that Caltrans must routinely clean up. This is a major step toward stopping roadway trash pollution that hurts the Bay.

Read more about Baykeeper's advocacy to get Caltrans to clean up trash on Bay Area roads.

Baykeeper Earth Day events & happy hours

Earth Day

To celebrate Earth Day this year, we're hosting a number of fun events to stand up for the environment and San Francisco Bay.

Doc's Clock Happy Hour Fundraiser in San Francisco – April 18: Raise a glass at the Mission District's fabled dive bar, Doc's Clock, with proceeds benefiting Baykeeper.

Click here for details on Facebook.

Earth Day Cleanup in Oakland – April 20: NOW FULL! Thanks to everyone who signed up to remove trash from the Bay this weekend!

Brotzeit Lokal Earth Day Fundraiser in Oakland – April 20: Oakland's waterfront beer garden will offer a prix fixe dinner, along with dedicated Baykeeper cocktails and the Baykeeper IPA, to benefit our work defending the Bay.

Click here for Brotzeit Lokal's event calendar.

Eileen Fisher Earth Day Fundraiser – April 20: Shop at one of Eileen Fisher's four Bay Area locations this Saturday, and 10% of proceeds will support Baykeeper's work for the Bay.

Click here for Eileen Fisher locations.

San Mateo Fish Market's Giving Sips – April & May: For every glass of "giving sips" wine sold, $1 will go to Baykeeper. Visit their four Bay Area locations and take a giving sip for the Bay.

Click here for Fish Market locations.

Luke's Local Market: Sign up with Luke's Local new Fox Club in San Francisco's Cole Valley, and you can donate to Baykeeper with every grocery purchase for Earth Day and all year round.

Click here to learn about Luke's Fox Club Program.

Binocs  Baykeeper on patrol

Baykeeper Field Investigator Sienna Courter was out on the patrol boat recently with Dr. Katlin Bowman for a new round of microplastics sampling in the Bay. The sampling is for a National Geographic study that will help answer critical questions about the relationship between mercury and microplastic pollution.

The team turned up many microplastic particles that will be sent for testing in the lab. We also found some not-so-micro plastics, like strands of plastic Easter "grass" (pictured below). If you're decorating Easter baskets this year, think of the Bay and skip the fake grass!


Photo at top by Robert Most

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Beat cops of the Bay