Thursday March 14, 2024

San Francisco Chronicle

When heavy rain overwhelms wastewater treatment plants in San Francisco, causing stormwater to overflow onto streets and into the bay, sewage is an unfortunate part of the mix. 

After heavy rain, the largest recipient of the potent brew of stormwater and sewage in the city is Mission Creek — a channel to the bay that is home to houseboats, walking trails and a kayak launch. At Mission Creek, Islais Creek, another channel at India Basin, and a few locations in between, the city discharges 1.2 billion gallons of “combined sewer discharges” in a typical year, according to the environmental group S.F. Baykeeper, which has notified the city it intends to sue over how such discharges impact the environment.

A large portion of the combined sewer overflows — which SFPUC said are composed of 94% treated stormwater and 6% treated wastewater — is making its way without basic treatment into the bay during storms, according to S.F. Baykeeper. The waste includes syringes, condoms and floating feces, the organization said. It provided photos of such items floating in Mission Creek after a winter storm.

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