Baykeeper's Monthly Column

Baykeeper publishes a monthly column on San Francisco Bay cultural, environmental, and maritime issues.
(September 2019) Once-through cooling. For decades, power plants along the San Francisco, Pittsburg, and Antioch shorelines used this technology.  Powerful pumps sucked Bay water into local power plants, pulling in larvae and small fish that died by the force. Intake screens trapped larger fish in the water rushing in. Heated water dumped into the Bay killed fish eggs and made it too warm for...
(August 2019) Our children’s San Francisco Bay could be much bleaker than the beautiful Bay we all know and love today.  Within their lifetimes, rising water might flood toxic hotspots, industrial facilities, and sewage treatment plants—spreading pollution through the Bay and into neighborhoods. Warming Bay waters will likely cause toxic algae blooms, spread new diseases to plants and animals,...
(July 2019) If you’re a swimmer, kayaker, stand-up paddle boarder, boater—or someone who simply loves San Francisco Bay—you’re invited to be part of the 6th annual Bay Parade.  This event is a once-a-year chance to celebrate a San Francisco Bay that’s clean enough for recreation on and in the water. The Bay Parade is Sunday, August 11, with varied morning start times, depending how you choose to...
(June 2019) As the dust settles from the whirlwind transition of the California governor’s office, it’s a relief that the new statehouse has squashed the Delta tunnels water project.  The proposal for massive twin tunnels through the Delta was an expensive infrastructure project—deceptively named “WaterFix”—that would have caused irreparable harm to San Francisco Bay. Too much fresh water is...
(May 2019) A new proposal by the Trump administration poses a big threat to San Francisco Bay and to local drinking water.  If it’s adopted, the rule would erase Clean Water Act protections for streams and creeks that flow only when it rains or when the winter snow melts. A polluter would be free to contaminate the water flowing in a creek if that creek, during another part of the year, usually...
(April 2019) Three decades ago, media reports warned that San Francisco Bay was dying.  Anti-pollution laws were not being enforced. Polluters were dumping waste into the Bay with no fear of detection. The Bay was being slowly poisoned and there was no relief in sight.   Until 1989, when research scientist Dr. Michael Herz determined that the Bay needed a fierce champion—and founded San Francisco...
(March 2019) One day in 2011, Baykeeper staff was on a regular patrol of San Francisco Bay in our boat—when we came across something awful. A shipping terminal on the Richmond shoreline had placed huge, looming piles of dark black material at the edge of the water. Wind was blowing black dust from the piles directly into the Bay. Facility operators were also making a mess in the water while...
(February 2019) I try hard to understand the mindset of the people who decided to build dirty, dangerous oil refineries on the gorgeous San Francisco Bay shoreline. Back 50-100 years ago, the Bay represented a plentiful source of cooling water for refining processes that reach temperatures over 1,000 degrees. The oil industry saw a site where tanker ships could easily deliver crude oil. And the...
(January 2019) I’m not a fan of my morning alarm disrupting my cozy slumber. But to be on time and prepared for my busy day, I need that wake-up call, no matter how jarring.  I write this with similar mixed feelings. No one likes an alarmist, but this new year, all of us snoozing unaware around San Francisco Bay need a wake-up call. The Bay is already under stress from more than 7 million of us...
(December 2018) A multinational corporation is mining sand from the bottom of San Francisco Bay and selling it for a profit. But the Bay’s sand belongs to you and me. And taking sand out of the Bay harms Dungeness crab, San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, and other Bay Area beaches and wetlands. One main area where companies mine sand lies between the San Francisco waterfront and Angel Island. Young...

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