Baykeeper's E-newsletter for December 2018

San Francisco Baykeeper E-News
Monthly Update for December 2018
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A victory for rivers, the Bay & the Delta


Water diversions are sucking Northern California's rivers dry. And the lack of fresh water is harming San Francisco Bay, the Delta, and the fish that depend on healthy water flows.

As Baykeeper Attorney Ben Eichenberg stated, "Without more water, the current collapse of fish populations we're witnessing in the Delta will only accelerate."

That's why Baykeeper and our partners have been urging the State Water Board for years to increase flows in the rivers. This week, for the first time in more than 30 years, the State Water Board voted in favor of a plan to increase water flowing from rivers to the Bay-Delta.

The plan isn't perfect. The science shows they need even more freshwater than this, and state and federal laws require stronger protections for fish. But adopting new flow standards is an important step in the right direction.

"The bottom line is that there's enough water for everyone if Big Ag and cities accept responsibility to use water more wisely and efficiently," Ben said. "If that doesn't happen, it will drive fish populations to extinction."

Read more about the Water Board's decision from KQED.

Photo by Robb Most

Trump administration attacks clean water protections


The Trump administration is once again trying to dismantle our nation's clean water laws. Their newest proposal will remove protections for certain streams, creeks, and wetlands that feed into larger bodies of water like San Francisco Bay.

Erica Maharg, Baykeeper's Managing Attorney, spoke with the San Francisco Chronicle about the rollback, saying the administration's plans "ignore the science of how smaller bodies and wetlands impact the larger rivers, lakes, bays and the ocean. Generally, it means more pollution is going to be in the system."

The Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule is an important legal tool for stopping pollution in waterways across the country. As the administration hacks away at our country's most important environmental regulations, it's increasingly critical to strengthen state and local protections for the water flowing into San Francisco Bay.

Read more about the proposed rule from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Photo by Anders Sandberg, Flickr/CC

Raw sewage in the Bay is not okay

Sewage Spill

The rainy season brings a big problem for San Francisco Bay: sewage spills. Aging sewer pipes around the Bay Area are crumbling. Large volumes of rain seep into these pipes, causing overflows that spill into streets, and the sewage then gets washed into the Bay.

"When raw sewage spills into our streets and creeks, this exposes people to bacterial infections and illnesses," says Ian Wren, Baykeeper Scientist. "Untreated sewage also hosts a brew of contaminants that can kill fish in urban creeks, lower dissolved oxygen in the Bay, and prevent people from enjoying local waterways."

A decade ago, the city of Millbrae's sewer agency spilled tens of thousands of gallons of raw sewage into the Bay. So Baykeeper filed a Clean Water Act lawsuit to require Millbrae to fix its sewer problems. Our legal action resulted in Millbrae reducing sewage spills by 95%.

Learn more about Baykeeper's campaign to stop sewage pollution around the Bay.

Protecting the Bay's most sensitive habitats from an oil spill

oil spill

In 2007, the Cosco Busan container ship struck the Bay Bridge, ripping open its fuel hold and spilling 53,000 gallons of oil into San Francisco Bay. The spill killed thousands of birds, closed more than 50 local beaches, and coated sensitive shoreline habitat with oil.

"Cosco Busan was a wake-up call," says Baykeeper Executive Director Sejal Choksi-Chugh. "It highlighted the need for better oil spill preparation to protect the Bay."

Baykeeper scientists recently joined a new task force to update the ranking of Bay sites that would be the most at risk if, and when, the next big oil spill occurs. This program will prioritize these sensitive areas for rapid response and create plans to contain oil and protect endangered species.

As Sejal put it, "We can't entirely eliminate the possibility of a major oil spill in the Bay–but we can make sure we're ready to defend the Bay's most sensitive shorelines and wildlife."

Read more about protecting sensitive habitat from an oil spill.

We're hiring—become Baykeeper's Managing Scientist

San Francisco Baykeeper is seeking a Managing Scientist to direct Baykeeper's science and policy program to protect the water quality and habitat of San Francisco Bay.

Bay ScientistsThe Managing Scientist will oversee Baykeeper's effective science-based advocacy, provide scientific support to our legal program, and identify and analyze emerging threats to the Bay.

This is a new director-level position on the Baykeeper leadership team. We're looking for a seasoned manager with science and policy expertise relevant to the health and restoration of the San Francisco Bay watershed.

Click here to read more about this position and learn how to apply.

Photo by Robb Most

Defend San Francisco Bay with your gift to Baykeeper

Baykeeper boat

In 2018, Baykeeper stood up to big oil, industrial polluters, and for-profit sand miners. We also launched our new ShoreView website as a resource to help the Bay Area prepare for sea level rise. And we patrolled for polluters around the Bay by boat, plane, and drone.

2019 is going to be another critical year for the Bay:

  • The oil company Phillips 66 wants to more than double the number of oil tankers on the Bay every year.
  • In Oakland, a developer wants to build a massive new terminal for shipping coal on the Bay shoreline.
  • And thousands of industrial facilities around the Bay are potential toxic polluters, with little oversight.

With your help, our scientists and advocates will be in court, in front of regulators, and in the field to find and stop polluters that are harming the Bay.

Help us continue this vital work and make your gift to Baykeeper today.

December 31 is the last day to make your tax-deductible gift to Baykeeper for 2018. And if you've already donated, the Baykeeper team thanks you!

Photo by Robb Most

You're Invited to Anchor Brewing's birthday bash for Baykeeper!


Baykeeper will be celebrating 30 years of Bay protection in 2019, and Anchor Brewing is throwing us a birthday bash!

Join us at Anchor's Public Taps in San Francisco to commemorate three decades of defending San Francisco Bay. We'll also be revealing an exciting new Baykeeper-Anchor partnership for 2019.

Where: Anchor Public Taps, 495 De Haro St., San Francisco

When: Thursday, January 17, 2019, 5pm-9pm

Free entry, beer specials, and food for sale. We hope to see you there!

Photo courtesy of Anchor Brewing

Save the date! The 2019 Bay Parade is August 11


Every year, Baykeeper hosts the Bay Parade, San Francisco Bay's biggest on-the-water celebration. Hundreds of swimmers, paddlers, boaters, and volunteers get out on the water to pay tribute to the Bay while supporting Baykeeper's work to stop polluters.

The 6th annual Bay Parade will take place on August 11, 2019. Mark your calendars now and stay tuned for more details.

Looking for a unique sponsorship or employee engagement opportunity for your company? The Bay Parade is a fantastic team-building event for a good cause! Email us for more information.

Photo by Clay Schmitz

Binocs  Baykeeper on patrol

The world's longest running wildlife census, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, will begin on December 14. Volunteer Baykeeper Skipper Robert Fairbank will help a team tally birds in South Marin aboard the Baykeeper boat on December 29. Find a Christmas Bird Count happening near you.

Baykeeper's field team was busy this month with several rounds of early-morning investigations of industrial facilities around the Bay. Rainy season monitoring is the basis of our Bay-Safe Industry campaign. When we find polluters releasing toxic pollution into the Bay, we gather evidence and hold them accountable.

Recent rains flushed a lot of trash into the Bay. On boat patrol after a storm in November, Field Investigator Sienna Courter found a mile-long raft of floating trash. "There was a lot of junk in the water, including plastic bags, coffee cups, and straws," says Sienna. "It shows how important it is to stop trash from getting into storm drains before it ends up in the Bay." Baykeeper recorded evidence from this incident and will continue pushing local cities to reduce trash getting into local waterways.

Below, volunteer Baykeeper Skipper Ray Durkee with a barrel of trash aboard the Baykeeper boat

Trash on the boat

Photo at top by Roberto Soncin Gerometta

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A victory for freshwater flows and healthy fish