Regardless of years of public complaints, California state environmental officers nonetheless haven’t stopped Caltrans from polluting San Francisco Bay and its creeks with street trash that toxins fish and wildlife, and endangers public well being.
Now, fed up cities and their residents are demanding rapid motion in opposition to this air pollution. Final week, Bay Space elected officers requested the state to instantly implement the Clear Water Act to stop litter on freeways and state roads from flowing into the bay.
Highway trash is greater than a driving hazard and an eyesore. Each time it rains, trash from busy freeways and state roads pours by way of storm drains into creeks and flows proper to San Francisco Bay. Plastic bottles, wrappers, Styrofoam, straws and cigarettes choke and poison seals, pelicans, fish, birds and different wildlife.
The trash additionally smothers wetland habitat and defaces the shoreline when it flows not solely by way of drains on Interstates 280, 680, 880 and Freeway 101, but in addition El Camino Actual, Woodside Highway, San Pablo Avenue, Mission Boulevard, and all of the roads Caltrans operates.
This Caltrans air pollution violates each federal regulation and state storm water permits that prohibit uncontrolled trash flows from the roads. The truth is, two years in the past state regulators on the San Francisco Bay Regional Water High quality Management Board issued Caltrans a proper discover of violation, and 6 months in the past the board advised its employees to provide a “stop and desist” order in opposition to Caltrans. The order by no means occurred, so the air pollution continues.
It’s not acceptable for a state company to disregard air pollution legal guidelines that cities, personal people and corporations should obey. Caltrans’ air pollution really penalizes San Jose, Oakland, Vallejo, San Mateo and different cities which might be attempting to fulfill their very own authorized obligations to stop any trash flowing to the bay by 2022. Trash draining off state roads turns into a neighborhood metropolis’s accountability, growing town’s cleanup value and legal responsibility for water air pollution.
The board can order Caltrans to take away roadside litter extra typically, and to place trash-capture units in storm drains on highways and right-of-ways throughout deliberate street upkeep. The few units already put in in drawback places are efficient, however collectively they solely cease a fraction of the trash air pollution that state roads contribute to the bay. At most recognized trash sizzling spots in its management, Caltrans has carried out no work, set no timeline to chop trash air pollution, and devoted no funding, despite the fact that its funds this 12 months is $11.three billion. It’s unacceptable.
That’s why 75 Bay Space county supervisors, mayors and metropolis councilmembers wrote to the Water Board final week urging it “to take rapid enforcement motion in opposition to Caltrans for failing to implement trash management measures and defend the Bay from roadway air pollution.”
And 9,000 residents have signed petitions demanding that the Water Board “act instantly to make sure that Caltrans obeys the regulation, cleans up trashy roads, and installs full trash seize units in essentially the most littered areas, with penalties and fines for prolonged violations.”
Departing Gov. Jerry Brown, Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom and the Legislature all insist that California enforces federal environmental legal guidelines the Trump administration assaults or ignores. So it’s beautiful that considered one of our personal state businesses continues to be violating the Clear Water Act and polluting the bay.
The Water Board meets each month, so it ought to act earlier than this 12 months ends to implement the regulation, and cease Caltrans from making San Francisco Bay wildlife and Bay Space cities pay for its air pollution.
David Lewis is the chief director of Save The Bay.