Baykeeper Update

Poor Dredging Practices Harm Bay Wetlands and Kill Fish

Dredger in the Bay

Dredgers in San Francisco Bay are using outdated dredging methods to keep shipping channels open. As a result, they are harming wetlands and killing endangered fish.

The Army Corps of Engineers—which does about 70% of the Bay’s dredging—uses hydraulic technology that vacuums up endangered fish. The Army Corps’ own studies show this technology is killing the Bay’s delta and longfin smelt, two fish that are on the brink of extinction.

Plus, once they’ve sucked up mud and sand from the Bay floor, Army Corps dredgers take the collected sediment and dump it far out in the ocean. That’s a waste of a valuable and much needed resource, because this clean dredged sediment could instead be used to build up Bay wetlands.

“Wetlands are one of the Bay’s best defenses against sea level rise,” said Erica Maharg, Baykeeper Managing Attorney. “This is a wasted opportunity to restore them.”

Baykeeper is fighting in court for better dredging of the Bay. We recently submitted final legal arguments in our long-running court case to require the Army Corps to change their practices.

“We’re demanding that the Army Corps use non-hydraulic dredging methods that are proven to be safer for fish and other wildlife, especially in sensitive habitat areas,” Erica said.

And we’re urging that clean dredged sediment be used to build up Bay wetlands. Raising and restoring the Bay’s wetlands will make them better able to protect shorelines from sea level rise, storm surges, and flooding.

Baykeeper will keep fighting to stop harmful dredging and defend the Bay’s wetlands and wildlife.

Photo by San Francisco Baykeeper