October 15, 2001
Regional Water qualityControl Board, San Francisco Region
1515 Clay Street, Suite 1400
Oakland, CA 94612
Dear Ms. Barsamian,
On behalf of ourcollective members, we are writing to urge that your staff reconsider itsrecently circulated revisions to the 303(d) List of impaired waters(“Draft 303(d) List”)
As you know, Section 303(d)of the Clean Water Act requires your agency to list any waterbodies for whichbest-available-technology regulatory schemes failed to ensure compliance with waterquality standards. Such listingtriggers a mandatory duty by your agency to ensure that all sources ofimpairing pollutants are reduced to a level that will not result in waterquality violations. In addition,listing provides additional regulatory protection from new or increaseddischarges of problem pollutants.
Unfortunately, the Draft303(d) List proposed by your staff ignores many highly polluted creeks,stretches of shoreline and San Francisco Bay segments
The proposal to delist
Last year the Boardembarked upon a process to evaluate copper and nickel toxicity in the SanFrancisco Bay, North of the Dumbarton Bridge. This process was to include several rounds of water qualitymonitoring and a peer reviewed data analysis. Board staff also committed toaccommodating public input as the process evolved and pledged to develop an“Action Plan” to ensure that a delisting decision does not resultin further degradation of the Bay. Unfortunately, this process seems to have stalled.
No rationale isgiven for ignoring many studies submitted to the Board in support of listing.
The Draft 303(d) ListReport acknowledges that numerous scientific studies were received by the WaterBoard in support of consideration for listing but were not recommended forlisting by the Board. Unfortunately, for many of these waterways, no explanation for theBoard’s decision against listing is evident in the Draft 303(d) ListReport. We are particularlyconcerned that the Board has not listed any of the waterways identified in itsown Regional Toxic Hotspot Cleanup Plan and that no explanation was providedfor this decision. The Planindicates that eight waterways in the Bay Area are polluted by variouscombinations of heavy metals, PCBs, pesticides and other contaminants.
Water Board staffpropose to arbitrarily exclude wet weather data when evaluating coliform and E.coli contamination.
Water Board staff arguethat there is less frequency of water contact recreation during the winter wetseason and that “naturally occurring bacteria” can skew data duringwet weather flows. This reasoningis unacceptable. The data showthat contamination by coliform bacteria is highest during wet weather whenurban runoff washes pathogens off the urban landscape, overwhelms sewagetreatment plants, floods septic system leach fields and washes animal wasteinto our waterways. Furthermore, many water users, such as surfers, spend moretime in contaminated waterways duringwet weather. The Clean Water Act requires listing of the waterway on the 303(d)List if it is not meeting water quality standards, regardless of the source.
The Draft 303(d)List fails to list anywaterways for trash, in spite of overwhelming evidence that many Bay Areacreeks are full of garbage.
The Draft 303(d) ListReport confirms that evidence submitted by the public and its own data indicatethat "there are excessive levels of trash in virtually all urbanizedwaterways of the San Francisco Bay Region.”
We find these argumentslacking. In fact, where previousor existing management efforts have failed to keep trash out of our creeks,listing is now explicitly required by the Clean Water Act.
The Draft 303(d)List fails to include Bay Area creeks that are impaired by sediment pollution.
Sedimentation anderosion processes are known to destroy fish habitat and are recognized by theBoard to threaten numerous waterways around the Bay Area.
Regional Board staffclaim that data are too “old” to list numerous Bay Area creekswhich are contaminated with toxic heavy metals.
Nine Bay Area creeksreceived comprehensive water quality monitoring scrutiny in the mid-1990s andwere found to routinely violate water quality standards for cadmium, lead,copper, chromium, mercury and nickel. The myriad of sources of heavy metalsthat existed in the mid-1990s (runoff from industrial facilities, vehicleemissions, and atmospheric deposition, among others) exist today and no evidencehas been presented which suggests that these waterways have improved.
Your consideration ofthese concerns is greatly appreciated.
Bayview-Hunters PointCommunity Advocates
California PublicInterest Research Group
Center forEnvironmental Health
Coalition for BetterWastewater Solutions
Clean Water Action
Community Water RightsProject
Golden Gate Audubon
India BasinNeighborhood Association
The Ocean Conservancy(formerly Center for Marine Conservation)
W.F. “Zeke”Grader, Jr.
Pacific CoastFederation of Fisherman’s Associations
San FranciscoBayKeeper, a project of WaterKeepers Northern California
San Francisco ChapterSurfrider Foundation
San Francisco Tomorrow
Save the Bay
Urban Creeks Council
West County ToxicsCoalition
 Draft 303(d)List Report at 14.