San Francisco dumping massive amounts of sewage in the bay, warn environmental advocates
04/08/2024 // Ethan Huff // Views

An environmental advocacy group is warning that the allegedly "green" city of San Francisco is heavily polluting the bay with sewage in direct violation of multiple Clean Water Act provisions.

San Francisco Baykeeper says it is filing a lawsuit against both the San Francisco Public Utility Commission (SFPUC) and the city itself after learning that raw sewage and trash-filled runoff is flooding the bay every time there is a heavy rainstorm.

The watchdog organization conducted its own investigation to discover that San Francisco and its public utility commission violated hundreds of Clean Water Act provisions over the past five winters, including with the dumping of raw sewage.

SFPUC discharges around 1.2 billion gallons of combined stormwater runoff and sewage every year into the bay. Roughly six percent of this discharge is sewage, which during a wet year amounts to around 180 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of sewage being dumped into the bay.

"There's no excuse for polluting the bay with sewage and trash, and those who pollute must be held accountable," commented Baykeeper executive director Sejal Choksi-Chugh.

"Dumping millions of gallons of untreated sewage into Mission Creek and the Bay is unacceptable, avoidable and illegal."

(Related: There is now so much rampant crime taking place in San Francisco that some area businesses are erecting barriers at their store entryways requiring an employee chaperone while shopping.)

Condoms, fecal matter and syringes – oh my!

The vast majority of SFPUC's discharges flow into Mission Creek and Islais Creek, the Baykeeper investigation found. During a visit to Mission Creek, Baykeeper investigators discovered fecal matter, plastics, condoms and syringes in the water.

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"San Francisco is dumping raw sewage and trash directly into the bay at a magnitude that's almost incomprehensible," said Baykeeper attorney Eric Buescher.

"Sewage and stormwater pollution is, by volume, the single greatest source of pollution in the Bay, and San Francisco is likely the greatest source of that sewage pollution."

Baykeeper sent a formal notice both to the city of San Francisco and SFPUC warning them that it intends to file a lawsuit over these horrific discoveries in U.S. District Court.

"The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission appears to be operating on the assumption that its sewage discharges receive treatment and don't cause harm, but the evidence demonstrates that those assumptions are wrong," Choksi-Chugh added.

An SFPUC spokesperson denied the allegations, claiming that the city's combined sewer-stormwater system actually helps to protect the environment rather than harm it because it captures and treats the stormwater flows.

"Across the Bay Area, when it rains, urban storm runoff picks up trash and contaminants as it flows untreated into San Francisco Bay and other bodies of water," the spokesperson further commented. "San Francisco, however, doesn't do that."

"While other coastal cities in California have separate sewer and stormwater systems, most of San Francisco is served by a combined sewer system. This combined system provides greater environmental benefits because it captures and treats most stormwater to the same high standards that apply to wastewater from homes and businesses before releasing it to the bay or ocean. Other cities and counties in the Bay Area don't treat their stormwater before allowing it to flow into the bay. San Francisco, on the other hand, is removing pollutants that other cities don't."

The spokesperson would go on to claim that this unique approach was developed with oversight both from the Regional Water Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

"The system handles most rainstorms well," this person added. "Some extreme storms can stress the capacity of the system, requiring partially treated discharges. When discharges do occur, they consist overwhelmingly of stormwater."

The latest news about the destruction of the environment by polluting cities can be found at

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