Baykeeper Update

Tipster Reports Sludge Threatening the Bay

In Oakland’s Montclair area, a Baykeeper Pollution Hotline tipster spotted thick, muddy sludge running off a hillside construction site. She reported to us that the sludge was running into a storm drain that flows directly into Sausal Creek. 

Sausal Creek flows to the Oakland Estuary and San Francisco Bay. When too much mud gets into creeks and the Bay, it can sink to the bottom, harming the habitat of young and small bottom-dwelling creatures, such as insect larvae. The mud can also clog fish gills and interfere with fish growth and reproduction. 

Plus, mud running off a construction site can be contaminated with oil and heavy metals. Baykeeper Field Investigator Sienna Courter examined the report and photos, and recognized the construction sludge was a threat to the Bay. 

Sienna alerted the local enforcement agency about the sludge. The agency required the site operators to clean up the mess, keep the mud on the hillside, and implement controls to prevent future pollution. 

For example, the operators had to put filtering barriers called wattles around the storm drain to keep any future muddy runoff from reaching the creek and the Bay.

Baykeeper will check on the hillside when it rains to make sure that no more sludge is coming off the site.

People who report tips to Baykeeper’s Pollution Hotline can remain anonymous if they choose. But this tipster didn’t—she’s Deb Self, former Baykeeper Executive Director. 

If you see or suspect San Francisco Bay pollution, call Baykeeper's hotline at 1-800-KEEP-BAY (1-800-533-7229), e-mail, or go to

Photo by Deb Self