Thursday, April 04, 2019

Baykeeper: "Eyes and ears on the water"

From the East Bay Express:

..."This is the ugliest part of Richmond," says Sejal Choksi-Chugh, as she steps out of the cabin of a small boat patrolling the waterway, known as the Lauritzen Canal.

Her observation is generous. This may be the bleakest shoreline in the Bay Area, and it isn't just the industrial infrastructure that gives character to this place. 

Floating trash has collected along the docks, and the waters are contaminated by the loading and unloading of vast amounts of fossil fuels. A sign posted to a piling warns fishers not to eat anything they catch here.

A murre dives underwater as the 24-foot vessel putters past, and other seabirds stand perched on the docks. In the winter months, herring sometimes spawn near the mouth of this canal, and contrary to appearances, the marine ecology here has not been entirely consumed by things concrete, steel and chemical.

In other words, there's hope, and that's partly why Choksi-Chugh is here. She is the executive director of San Francisco Baykeeper, an environmental watchdog based in an office in downtown Oakland but known better for its field investigations on the Bay itself.

"We're the eyes and ears on the water," she said.

The organization also keeps a strong presence in court. Founded in 1989 and supported by public and private donors, Baykeeper has earned a reputation as one of the region's most active and most effective defenders of the marine environment. 

More than 270 times, Baykeeper has identified polluters in action — often cities that chronically discharge trash and raw sewage into the water — and taken them to court and seen them penalized for violating the federal Clean Water Act...

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Done in weeks, not months!

Jim Morin

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