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 not absorb all of the caffeine that was in my coffee, and the shampoo, conditioner and moisturizer I used washed down the drain, where it will eventually reach the Bay.
A federal judge has invalidated a water plan that would have allowed more pumping from the San Francisco Bay Delta at the expense of five species of protected salmon and steelhead trout. Fishing and conservation groups and a California tribe called the ruling a victory for the millions of Californians who depend on the delta for drinking water, fishing jobs and agriculture. The ruling comes in the wake of federal fisheries managers’ unprecedented April 10 decision to cancel this year’s salmon fishing season because of a record decline in spawning fish.
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 substance left exposed to the elements can be carried into our waterways by stormwater.
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 another 2.5 million gallons of sewage when it was overwhelmed by heavy rains. Sewage spills carry not only bacteria and disease, but industrial chemicals as well.
Today the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the case surrounding the Exxon Valdez oil spill. In 1987, the tanker Exxon Valdez spilled tens of millions of gallons of Alaskan crude oil into Prince William Sound. The Court will hear arguments from Exxon about why it should not have to pay the $5 billion liability award imposed by an Anchorage jury in 1994. The High Court’s decision is relevant for oil spill prevention and cleanup in San Francisco Bay.
Environmental groups today challenged the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board’s flawed regulation of dairy operations in the Central Valley. The Regional Board recently issued permits that do not adequately protect the Valley’s waterways from pollution caused by large dairy operations and do not comply with the federal Clean Water Act.
After over a decade of efforts to stop sewage spills in the Bay Area, today Baykeeper launched its Sick of Sewage Initiative to rein in the Bay’s sewage spill problem. The initiative will involve:
Environmental groups are challenging the US Maritime Administration for its failure to protect the waters of the San Francisco Bay and Delta Estuary from pollution created by a ghost fleet of toxic ships near Benicia. More than fifty decommissioned and deteriorating vessels are anchored in Suisun Bay, leaching toxic paint and heavy metals into the water and sediment of the Bay.
The California Coastkeeper Alliance (CCKA), a coalition of 12 Waterkeeper groups spanning the coast from the Oregon border to San Diego, and San Francisco Baykeeper today called on the U.S. Coast Guard and the State of California’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response to work with the public and lawmakers to improve oil spill preparedness and response in the San Francisco Bay Area and around the state. CCKA and Baykeeper spoke in response to the U.S. Coast Guard’s release today of its Phase I Incident Specific Preparedness Review (ISPR) Report on the Cosco Busan oil spill.
The San Francisco Bay is part of the largest estuary on the entire Pacific Coast of the Americas. One of the most biologically productive water bodies in the world, the Bay supports commercial and recreational fisheries, including Chinook salmon, Pacific herring, Bay mussel, and Dungeness crab. The Bay’s open water habitats, as well as its rocky shorelines and salt marshes, provide critical areas for many species and millions of migratory shorebirds depend on the Bay as a resting spot along the Pacific Flyway.