Frequent sewage spills in Millbrae will soon be dramatically reduced through a new agreement between San Francisco Baykeeper and the City of Millbrae. The pollution watchdog group sued the City last December after public records revealed that Millbrae spills thousands of gallons of raw sewage from its sewer lines in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. The claims Baykeeper brought were based solely on reports made by the City to State regulators.
“We are pleased that Millbrae has agreed to implement these overdue, comprehensive reforms of its sewer management system,” said Jason Flanders, staff attorney at San Francisco Baykeeper. “These new programs will put an end to Millbrae’s frequent sewage spills, benefiting water quality, property values, and creating green infrastructure jobs in the City for years to come.”
The Consent Decree, approved by the Millbrae City Council, Tuesday night will result in substantial improvements to the City’s aging sewage infrastructure over the next six years. The City will repair pipes on a set schedule, and will clean sewage pipes more often to prevent blockages from congealed grease and tree roots. In addition, Millbrae will invest $525,000 in projects to help restore the water quality of the San Francisco Bay watershed, including financial support for property owners to replace broken private sewer lines. The City will also subsidize low impact development approaches, such as rain barrels and replacing concrete with permeable surface materials to reduce the flow of storm water runoff to urban streets and parking lots, where it picks up toxic contamination.
“Because of the lawsuit, Millbrae has committed to an aggressive plan to come into compliance with federal clean water laws,” said Baykeeper Executive Director Deb Self. “The days of raw sewage pouring into Millbrae’s creeks and into San Francisco Bay are numbered.”
Baykeeper recently settled a similar lawsuit against San Carlos, and has ongoing suits against San Bruno, South San Francisco, West Bay Sanitation District, Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, Piedmont, and the Stege Sanitary District. Baykeeper began its Sick of Sewage campaign in 2005, subsequently achieving major sewage system upgrades for the cities of Richmond, Burlingame, and Hillsborough and the sewage districts of Burlingame Hills and East Bay Municipal Utility District.
San Francisco Baykeeper is the Bay’s pollution watchdog, using science and advocacy to enforce clean water laws and hold polluters accountable. For more information, visit us at www.baykeeper.org.