Baykeeper's E-Newsletter for March 2016

San Francisco Baykeeper E-News
Monthly Update for March 2016
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San Rafael Rock Quarry agrees to protect the Bay from contaminated runoff

In the 32nd victory for Baykeeper's Bay-Safe Industry Campaign, San Rafael Rock Quarry recently agreed to improve its operations to protect San Francisco Bay from contaminated runoff.

For the past five years, during storms, rainwater polluted with iron, nitrite, nitrate, and other contaminants has run off the site directly into the Bay. Baykeeper sued the company under the Clean Water Act and secured a legally-binding agreement requiring San Rafael Rock Quarry to keep its contamination out of the Bay.

The company will improve its pollution controls and test the storm water running off the site. If the runoff still pollutes the Bay, Baykeeper will require further pollution controls.

Learn more about Baykeeper's legally-binding pollution agreement with San Rafael Rock Quarry.

Photo by Robb Most. Thanks to LightHawk Conservation Flying.

Baykeeper urges regulators to protect threatened Bay wildlife from toxic selenium

Baykeeper is urging regulators to protect threatened wildlife species from toxic levels of selenium in the northern parts of San Francisco Bay. This selenium contamination comes from nearby oil refineries and from Central Valley agriculture that washes down from the Delta. In large amounts, selenium is toxic to a wide variety of fish and birds—including ducks and green and white sturgeon.

Experts from UC Davis, US Geological Survey, and US Fish and Wildlife advised regulators that high selenium in the prey of fish and ducks poses a major threat to their survival. Despite this expert advice, the Regional Water Board for San Francisco Bay proposed to allow refineries to keep polluting with selenium at current levels, and to require no controls on selenium that washes down from Central Valley agriculture.

In response, Baykeeper advocated that regulations be based on the harm caused by excess selenium in the Bay. Using strong scientific and legal arguments, we urged the Regional Board to require reductions in selenium pollution to protect the Bay's wildlife.

Photo by Steve Valasek, Flickr/CC

Delta Tunnels would harm Bay, Baykeeper tells Senate Select Committee hearing

The 30-mile tunnels proposed to route fresh water from the northern end of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to pumps on the southern end would starve San Francisco Bay of necessary fresh water. If the tunnels are built, they will also cause pollution in the Bay and harm Bay wetlands and habitat.

That was the message Baykeeper Managing Attorney George Torgun, left, delivered last week at a hearing of the California Senate Select Committee on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Proponents of the massive tunnel plan, now called Cal Water Fix, are using outdated pollution standards from 1995 to claim the tunnels won't harm the Bay. But according to scientific evidence, the Bay doesn't get enough fresh water now—and the tunnels will take away even more.

Baykeeper will continue to advocate against the Delta tunnels plan, now named Cal Water Fix.

Photo by Roger Cunningham

Meet Baykeeper Staff Attorney Erica Maharg

Several Bay Area industrial facilities are doing a better job of keeping pollution out of San Francisco Bay, thanks to the work of Baykeeper Staff Attorney Erica Maharg.

Erica investigates industrial facilities to find out if they are contaminating the Bay. This can include going out at night, in the rain, to collect a sample of water flowing off an industrial site that will be tested for pollutants.

Once she has gathered enough evidence that a facility is polluting the Bay, Erica notifies the operators and files a lawsuit under the Clean Water Act. She then attempts to negotiate a settlement agreement that specifies the pollution controls the facility must use to keep contamination out of the Bay.

"Our cases have the legal and factual support to go to trial if needed—but settlement agreements are much better than going to court. With a settlement agreement, Baykeeper's and the industrial facility's resources go toward solutions to the pollution problems, rather than the cost of litigation," Erica says.

She also works toward policies that better protect the Bay, including work with our coalition partners to stop unwise development on the Bay shoreline.

When she's not at work at Baykeeper, Erica hikes, dabbles in rock climbing, reads, and hangs out with her two beloved dogs (and with her human friends, too). Her Twitter ID sums up her philosophy: "a strong belief we can do things better, but until then, a little snark doesn't hurt."

Photo by David McGuire,

Save the date: Join the 3rd Annual Bay Parade on May 22

Want to celebrate San Francisco Bay, have a fun day on the water, and support Baykeeper's work for a healthy Bay?

Join Baykeeper's 3rd Annual Bay Parade on Sunday, May 22, 2016 with key partners Levi Strauss & Co., Anchor Brewing, and the San Francisco Giants. Registration opens very soon!

You can swim, kayak, stand-up paddleboard, boat, or kiteboard in the Bay Parade. The on-the-water finale in McCovey Cove will be shown on the Jumbotron at AT&T Park at the start of the San Francisco Giants baseball game. Prizes will be awarded on the Giants' home plate!

More details available at Mark your calendars now and see you on May 22 for the Bay Parade!

Photo by Clay Schmitz

Thank you for making Baykeeper's Dinner at the Dolphin Club a big success!

Baykeeper's Dinner at the Dolphin Club in February brought together 150 people who enjoyed a delicious crab dinner and celebrated San Francisco Bay. Thank you to everyone who attended, all the volunteers, and all who donated items to the silent auction, which included a unique portable kayak from our partners at Oru Kayak, a personalized denim jacket from Levi Strauss & Co., an autographed San Francisco Giants baseball, and Sunski sunglasses. You helped make the event a big success for the Bay! To see photos of the dinner, click here.

A highlight of the evening was the presentation of Baykeeper's 2016 Blue Rivet Awards. The awards honor community members and businesses that believe in Baykeeper's vision of a safe and thriving San Francisco Bay and have made significant strides to help achieve that vision.

This year's Blue Rivet Award winners include Roger Castillo, for his tireless volunteer stewardship of the Guadalupe River in San Jose; Paul Johnson, for his work toward sustainable fisheries as founder of the Monterey Fish Market in San Francisco and Berkeley; and Levi Strauss & Co., for pioneering sustainability initiatives that reduce water use and waterway contamination and promote consumer water conservation and clothing recycling.

Another highlight was the unveiling of the Golden Rivet Award, which will recognize participants in the Baykeeper Bay Parade, this year and for years to come. The award features a rivet made of real gold, and will honor the Bay Parade's fastest swimmer, fastest swim relay team, and the participant who raises the most money to support Baykeeper's work for a healthy San Francisco Bay. Learn more at

Photos by Gail Odom

Deep Craft holds pop-up benefit for Baykeeper March 18-20

Thanks to artist Scott Constable for Deep Craft Atelier 2, a unique benefit for Baykeeper's work for a healthy San Francisco Bay.

Deep Craft Atelier 2 is a pop-up store selling hand-shaped skateboards with one-of-a-kind graphics designed by several artists. Other artist-designed goods for sale include limited edition surfing gear—handplanes and paipos; custom jewelry, neckties, sling bags, beach gear, seascapes, posters, textiles, and more.

The pop-up will be open with a reception Friday, March 18, 6-9pm with refreshments and live music. Weekend hours: Saturday, March 19, 11am-6pm and Sunday, March 20, 11am-3pm, at 337 Shotwell St, San Francisco.

Photo at top by Roberto Soncin Gerometta

Standing up to toxic selenium pollution