Baykeeper's E-newsletter July 2017

More oil tankers on the Bay, vineyard pollution, the successful Bay Parade, and more


San Francisco Baykeeper E-News
Monthly Update for July 2017
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Action Alert: Help protect SF Bay from oil spills

Tanker in the Bay

Phillips 66 wants to increase the number of tanker ships bringing crude oil, including heavy tar sands, to its refinery in Rodeo—from 59 to 135 tankers per year. The refinery is located on the San Francisco Bay shoreline, and more tanker ships will mean a bigger risk of oil spills in the Bay.

Tar sands oil is difficult, if not impossible, to clean up after a spill. In 2010, when tar sands oil spilled into Michigan's Kalamazoo River, response crews were unable to completely remove the oil from the riverbed, even after five years of cleanup efforts.

If a spill of tar sands oil occurred in San Francisco Bay, it could irreparably smother bottom-dwelling life forms that are critical to the Bay's food chain.

Please take action to protect the Bay from toxic oil spills. California regulators are accepting public comments now on Phillips 66's proposal.

Click here to learn more, and to sign and send your public comment saying no to more oil tankers on San Francisco Bay.

Photo by rulenumberone2, Flickr/CC

Baykeeper strengthens law to rein in dry dock pollution

Mare Island Dry Dock

Baykeeper recently advocated for local regulators to strengthen pollution controls at dry dock ship yards in San Francisco Bay.

Dry docks are large structures where big ships are lifted entirely out of the water for maintenance, such as removing old paint. If not contained properly, these maintenance activities can result in heavy metals and other toxins falling into the Bay.

The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board drafted revised requirements for the Bay Area's three dry dock facilities in San Francisco, Alameda, and Vallejo. Baykeeper's science and legal team advocated for key improvements. The Board agreed to require that dry docks conduct more monitoring of sediment and water quality monitoring for toxins, and added specific measures to keep contaminated runoff out of the Bay.

Read more about Baykeeper's work to keep dry docks from polluting the Bay.

Photo by Servando Miramontes, Flickr/CC

Keeping vineyard pesticides from contaminating the Bay

Napa River and vineyards

Baykeeper recently won new protections for the Napa River and Sonoma Creek—both tributaries of San Francisco Bay—from vineyard pesticide pollution.

Vineyard runoff can have serious impacts on fish, wildlife, and water quality. For example, pesticide compounds can mimic the effects of estrogen. As a result, fish species like Chinook salmon living in streams near vineyards have experienced unnatural biological changes.

To rein in this pollution source, Baykeeper advocated for more robust pesticide controls for vineyards. The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Board recently agreed to incorporate our recommendations to its new vineyards rules, and, at Baykeeper's suggestion, will start testing for pesticides of high concern in the Napa River and Sonoma Creek.

Learn more about Baykeeper's work on vineyard pollution.

Photo by Sheila Sund, Flickr/CC

The Delta Tunnels project moves forward, despite environmental risks

Delta aerial

The Delta Tunnels—also known as California WaterFix—is a misguided solution to the state's complicated water problems. The multi-billion dollar infrastructure project would "re-plumb" the current water system with two 35-mile long tunnels, diverting water from the Sacramento River to Southern California.

Extensive scientific research has shown that this project could irreparably harm the ecosystem of the San Joaquin Delta and the entire Bay-Delta estuary. Unfortunately, federal agencies recently released documents ignoring the science and claiming that the project is "not likely" to destroy critical habitat.

Baykeeper, along with many other environmental groups, disagrees with this assessment. We also believe that many of California's water problems could be resolved through efficiency upgrades and conservation.

Fortunately, the Delta Tunnels project still has a long way to go before final approval. Baykeeper will continue to oppose the tunnels and promote more sustainable approaches to California water management.

Read Baykeeper's position paper on why the Delta Tunnels would be bad for the Bay-Delta Estuary.

Photo by Paul Hames, California Department of Water Resources

Meet Baykeeper's new Field Investigator, Sienna Courter

Sienna Courter

When a pollution report comes in to Baykeeper's Pollution Hotline, Sienna Courter is on the case.

Sienna joined the Baykeeper team two months ago in our brand-new Field Investigator position. She serves as Baykeeper's eyes and ears on the ground and on the water, identifying and helping us stop pollution.

Sienna staffs Baykeeper's Pollution Hotline. When members of the public report pollution to us by phone or email, she investigates, notifies and follows up with responsible entities, and puts an end to the pollution.

A trained environmental scientist, Sienna also organizes patrols of San Francisco Bay in the Baykeeper boat. On Bay patrols, she's keeping an eye out for polluting activities with the help of one of Baykeeper's volunteer skippers. Our patrol team does everything from taking water quality samples of suspected pollution, picking up harmful trash on the water, and maintaining a record of the condition of abandoned vessels.

And Sienna represents Baykeeper on multi-agency task forces working to prevent oil spills and remove abandoned boats from San Francisco Bay.

With the federal government backtracking on environmental protection, Sienna says, "It's great to be at Baykeeper as part of a team of passionate people who work so hard to resolve so many challenges to the San Francisco Bay environment. We're a strong team, ready for whatever's going to happen."

Sienna grew up in Denver and now lives in San Francisco. When she's not out investigating pollution, she likes to hike with her dog, enjoy summer weather with friends, surf, play guitar, and make soup.

Photo by Geoff Potter, Baykeeper

Thanks for celebrating a terrific 4th annual Bay Parade with us

Bay Parade

On Sunday, July 9, Baykeeper hosted our biggest and most energetic Bay Parade yet! More than 200 swimmers, paddlers, boaters, and volunteers—many with noisemakers and costumes—celebrated a healthy San Francisco Bay in this annual on-the-water event.

We are pleased to announce that the Bay Parade raised over $95,000 for Baykeeper's work this year. That's an amazing contribution to keeping the Bay safe, healthy, and clean!

Congratulations to the 2017 Golden Rivet Award winners, who showed both remarkable athletic skill and a strong commitment to a healthy Bay: Catherine Breed, Fastest Solo Swimmer; the Olympic Club's Allison Arnold, Jon Leopold, Tiffany Sudarma, & Quinn Fitzgerald, Fastest 4-Person Relay; and Dylan Tweney and Peter Molnar, Biggest Fundraisers.

A big thank you to everyone who made the Bay Parade such a success, including the Bay Parade participants, volunteers, and everyone who made a gift in support of a pollution-free San Francisco Bay.

Thank you also to our generous sponsors, including Levi Strauss & Co, Anchor Brewing, the San Francisco Giants, Waterkeeper Alliance, and Toyota, national presenting sponsor of the SPLASH event series.

We look forward to building on this year's success to celebrate an even bigger event for the Bay next year!

Read more about Baykeeper's 2017 Bay Parade.

Photos by: Drew Bird, top row (; swimmer and caped Bay defender by Clay Schmitz; rowers by Robert McKinney

Mark your calendar! Alameda's Seaplane Water Fest is August 5

Seaplane Water Fest

On Saturday, August 5, join a free demo day featuring a variety of water sports, on San Francisco Bay! Get out on the water and try stand-up paddleboarding, paddleboard yoga, kayaking, or sailing. The event is hosted by the Point Alameda. Everyone is welcome, and no experience is necessary for the activities.

Baykeeper will be at the Water Fest to talk about protecting our waters for paddlers, kayakers, and everyone who loves the Bay. Stop by our table to hear about our latest efforts and enjoy our kid-friendly hands-on activities.

Seaplane Water Fest details:

Time: Saturday, August 5 at 9 AM - 1 PM

Location: Seaplane Lagoon, 1901 Ferry Point, Alameda, California

For more information, please see the Seaplane Water Fest event site.

Photo at top by Roberto Soncin Gerometta




Help protect SF Bay from oil spills