Oakland Fined For Polluting San Francisco Bay

Published May 28, 2018

The city of Oakland, which is embroiled in a climate lawsuit seeking damages from oil companies for their activities which the city and San Francisco claim will result in costly future climate changes, is facing fines for causing existing water pollution.

On Tuesday April 24, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) levied fines totaling $360,000 on Oakland and the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) for violating the 1972 Clean Water Act by allowing untreated sewage into the San Francisco Bay.

This is not the first time EPA has penalized Oakland and EBMUD for polluting the region’s waters.

Multiple Pollution Offences

In 2014, EBMU and the seven East Bay communities it serves, including Oakland and Berkeley, paid $1.5 million in civil penalties for past sewage discharges. As part of the settlement the municipalities were required to assess and upgrade a total of 1,500 miles of sewer system infrastructure over a 21-year period.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports, despite the agreement, over nearly the three-year period ending June 30, 2017, EPA determined Oakland, EBMUD, and the Stege Sanitary District violated rules barring sewer overflows from reaching the San Francisco Bay.

“East Bay communities made commitments to upgrade aging sewer infrastructure to protect the waters of San Francisco Bay and surrounding communities,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA regional administrator to the San Francisco Chronicle. “We’re taking this action to ensure diligent attention to renewal of wastewater infrastructure.”

EBMUD also failed to meet effluent limitations for chlorine and coliform, EPA determined resulting in an additional fines.

Other municipalities and utilities in the region that EPA found to have violated the Clean Water Act also face penalties.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.