You gotta hand it to Baykeeper; they keep swinging. Notice how insanely long this is? That’s a lot of lawsuits in the last three years, and a whole lot, I mean OMG, a whole lot, of sewage in the Bay. Some of these I knew about, some I didn’t. They all add up to a problem that no one wants to deal with or spend money on. Who cares about shit in the Bay, right? ::headdesk::
Baykeeper’s Legal Action to End Sewage Spills
Baykeeper Secures Agreement from Millbrae to Reduce Sewage Spills
July 2010 – San Francisco Baykeeper has successfully secured an agreement with the City of Millbrae to dramatically reduce the number sewage spills from Millbrae’s sewer lines. Baykeeper sued the City in December 2009 after the City’s records revealed that thousands of gallons of raw sewage had been spilled into creeks and the Bay in violation of the Clean Water Act.
Under our agreement, the City of Millbrae will make substantial improvements to its aging infrastructure over the next six years and perform regular maintenance to reduce sewage spills. The City has also agreed to invest $525,000 in projects to help restore the health of the Bay watershed, including offering financial support for property owners to replace broken private sewer lines and to implement low impact development features – such as collecting rainwater for reuse and replacing concrete with permeable surfaces – in order to reduce the flow of storm water runoff to storm drains and sewer pipes.
We’re pleased to have reached a strong settlement that will significantly reduce sewage contamination to the Bay. Read the press release here (pdf).
San Carlos Agrees to Reduce Sewage Spills Under Baykeeper Settlement
February 2010 – Baykeeper successfully settled our lawsuit against the City of San Carlos for its thousands of gallons of raw sewage spills in violation of the Clean Water Act. The City has agreed to spend tens of millions of dollars to make collection system improvements and undertake a study to identify capacity problems. The City will also invest $200,000 in funding for projects to help restore the water quality of the San Francisco Bay watershed. Read the press release here (pdf).
Above: Kayaks at Bair Island, a popular recreational area for kayakers paddling Corkscrew Slough.
Baykeeper’s Recent Legal Actions to Cut Sewage Spills in San Mateo County
Beginning in December 2009, Baykeeper filed a new series of lawsuits in San Mateo County, the latest in our ten-year effort to clean up sewage contamination in the Bay.
Baykeeper filed suit to prevent sewage spills from the Cities of Millbrae and San Carlos and the West Bay sanitary district, three areas with dilapidated sewage collection systems that have spilled thousands of gallons of sewage over the past five years – threatening the health of the Bay and its wildlife, as well as recreational users of popular South Bay spots like Bair Island and Corkscrew Slough. Read the press release (pdf) and the notices of violations and intent to file suit under the federal Clean Water Act for Millbrae, San Carlos and West Bay (pdfs).
In February 2010, Baykeeper brought suit against the City of San Bruno for its significant sewage spill problem. The Regional Water Quality Control Board recently issued a significant penalty to San Bruno for its violations but sought no repairs or upgrades to the City’s sewage system. We intend to compel the City to undertake aggressive repairs to reduce sewage spills to local neighborhoods and the Bay. Read the press release (pdf).
In March, Baykeeper also filed suit against the City of South San Francisco for its high sewage spill rate. We are in productive talks with the City and are optimistic that the City will agree to take critical improvements to its sewer systems, including replacing its many sewage lines constructed from cardboard and tarpaper.
Baykeeper Joins EPA Legal Action Against Seven East Bay Polluters
In January 2010, Baykeeper moved to intervene in the Environmental Protection Agency’s action against seven satellite facilities of the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). The cities of Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, Piedmont and the Stege Sanitary District suffer from high rates of sewage spills and contribute to EBMUD’s sewage overflows during rainy months. Baykeeper intends to play a substantive role in future negotiations between these satellite facilities and EPA. Read the press release (pdf).
Baykeeper’s Previous Victories to Prevent Sewage Spills in San Mateo County
In 2008 and 2009, Baykeeper successfully settled lawsuits against the City of Burlingame and its satellite cities of Hillsborough and Burlingame Hills for sewage spills in violation of the Clean Water Act.
Baykeeper filed suit against Burlingame In February 2008 after discovering that the City had a very high sewage spill rate and during large storms was illegally discharging wastewater at Coyote Point, a popular windsurfing area.
In August 2008, Baykeeper reached a successful settlement with the City of Burlingame to reduce sewage spills to the Bay. Burlingame agreed to substantially improve its sewage infrastructure over the next ten years, including stopping all spills during normal storm events, spending tens of millions of dollars to make collection system improvements and undertaking a study to identify capacity problems and eliminate near-shore discharges. The City will also invest $250,000 to fund projects that will help restore the San Mateo County watershed. Read the press release (pdf).
At the same time, Baykeeper brought suit against Hillsborough and Burlingame Hills for sewage spills that violate the Clean Water Act. Hillsborough and Burlingame Hills are “satellite” sewage collection systems that send sewage to the City of Burlingame for treatment. The poor maintenance of the satellite systems contributes to problems downstream at the Burlingame plant.
Baykeeper successfully settled with Hillsborough and Burlingame Hills in July 2009. Under our settlement agreements, Hillsborough and Burlingame Hills will dramatically curb sewage spills by 2014. Hillsborough will also contribute $50,000 to projects that help protect the San Francisco Bay and its watershed, including a program to provide low-cost loans for residents to replace failing sewer pipes; Burlingame Hills will invest $15,000 in watershed protection projects, including efforts to educate residents about how they can help reduce sewage spills.
Our citizen enforcement actions against Burlingame, Hillsborough and Burlingame Hills will help bring about a comprehensive solution for sewage pollution from the San Mateo Peninsula.