San Francisco Bay Getting Healthier

The State of the Bay Report comes out every two years and this year’s research has found that the Bay Area waters is improving, though there is still a long way to go to return to clean waters. The report published on September 19th, showed that the waters are far less polluted than the 1950’s and 60’s. Thanks to the Clean Water Act passed in 1972, billions of dollars were spent to clean up wastewater. The banning of substances like DDT and PCBs have also helped with cleaning the water.

“The bay’s health is definitely getting better. We’re making progress,” said Andrew Gunther, an environmental scientist and chief author of the “The State of San Francisco Bay 2011.” “But we still have a way to go. Starting with the Gold Rush, we had a century of degrading the bay. And we’ve only been restoring it since the early 1970s.”

This shows what can be done if attention is brought to environmental issues, but most of the turn around can be dedicated to all the money spent in order to protect our waters. That is one of the issues with our society. We need laws in order for us to do the right thing, but not enough of us go out of our way to be environmentally conscious. San Francisco is a rare case where people are constantly making choices to better the environment. Even little things like using reusable water bottles and grocery bags have helped keep trash out of the waters.  Still I think we can do more, but again it’s going to cost money.

One thing we learned is that saving a species is nice, but saving an ecosystem is the best way to reverse the effects we’ve had on the environment.  The report has found that in the last decade almost 10,000 acres of wetlands have been restored. That brings the number to 50,000 acres. The news article about this report states that biologist are already seeing increase in birds and fish in the restored areas. This is one way we can help to further improve the Bay Area waters. The plan now is to get to 100,000 though funding remains an issue.

The article points out that there are still issues pleaguing the Bay Area, one of them being the diversion of fresh water from the San Joaquin River Delta.

“For the past several decades, the bay has been in a state of chronic drought,” Swanson said. “Protecting the bay’s ecosystem and recovering its fisheries will require changes in water management in the bay’s tributary rivers and the Delta to increase freshwater flows, particularly during the spring.”

There is also still an issue with mercury flowing from the abandoned mines and into the bay waters. Still reports like these give us hope and lay out plans for what we can do to improve the waters in the coming decade.

[Full news article: http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_18927046]

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