Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Land UseTags , , ,

Bay Area-wide tax aims to protect against rising sea levels 

Bay Area voters will be asked in June to approve a $12 annual parcel tax to protect and restore the San Francisco Bay shoreline and wetlands from rising sea levels due to climate change.
The proposed tax is believed to be the first to go on the ballot in all nine Bay Area counties. It needs two-thirds approval to pass.
In authorizing the measure unanimously on Wednesday, members of the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority said the tax is needed to provide $500 million over 20 years to fortify levees and create flood relief plains to protect homes, businesses, airports, highways and parks around the bay, and restore wetlands important to fish and wildlife.
“This is a historic day for Bay Area counties to get together on wetlands restoration on a scale not seen before,” said Dave Pine, a San Mateo County supervisor who is chairman of the restoration authority board. “San Francisco Bay is a common resource people in our region want to protect. It’s part of our identity.”
The panel is made up of seven elected county, city and special district officials who oversee a partnership that aims to protect bay wildlife and wetlands.
Board members, environmentalist and business leaders say the tax is needed to guard against the growing risk of flooding from rising sea levels because of climate change. Scientists predict the sea level to rise 3 to 5 feet through 2100.
Business groups such as the Bay Area Council and Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and environmental groups such as Save San Francisco Bay, back the measure.
Read more at: Bay Area-wide tax aims to protect against rising sea levels – San Jose Mercury News

Posted on Categories Sustainable Living, WaterTags , , ,

Billions of pieces of tiny plastic litter found in San Francisco Bay

San Francisco Bay is contaminated with widespread pollution from billions of tiny pieces of plastic in greater concentrations than the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and other major U.S. bodies of water, according to a groundbreaking new study.
At least 3.9 million pieces of plastic pour into the bay every day from eight large sewage treatment plants — a relentless torrent of litter that ranges from tiny “microbeads” found in cosmetics, facial scrubs and toothpastes, to bits of synthetic fabric from fleece jackets, pants and other clothes, which break down as they are washed.
“We’re concerned about these high levels. This was unexpected,” said Rebecca Sutton, a senior scientist at the San Francisco Estuary Institute, a nonprofit research center based in Richmond.
Microplastic poses a growing concern in oceans and other aquatic habitat. Not only does the plastic contaminate the bay and wildlife, experts say, it is also working its way up the food chain, binding to chemicals in the water and posing a potential health risk to people eating fish caught in the bay.
In the study, the first of its kind to broadly document pollution from “microplastic” in the bay, researchers dragged tight-meshed nets along the surface of the water in nine areas of the bay, from Oakland and Treasure Island to locations near San Jose. They found on average 1 million pieces of tiny plastic per square kilometer — an area of about 250 acres — at the water’s surface or a few inches below it in the South Bay, a concentration nine times higher than levels of similar plastics found in Lake Erie.
Further north, off Oakland and San Francisco, they found 310,000 pieces per square kilometer, still double the highest levels in Chesapeake Bay and triple the levels in Lake Erie, the most polluted of the Great Lakes.
Sutton, a lead author of the study who has a doctorate in environmental chemistry from UC Berkeley, said that researchers also accidentally captured nine small fish while taking their water samples. Inside each fish they found an average of six pieces of plastic.
Other scientific studies have found that tiny pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans and water bodies, sometimes so dense that they outnumber plankton, can absorb contaminants such as pesticides and PCBs, which accumulate in fish when they mistake the plastic for food. The small fish are then eaten by larger fish. And people who eat the affected fish can be exposed to the chemicals when they consume the plastic.
Read more at: Plastic pollution: Billions of pieces of tiny plastic litter found in San Francisco Bay – San Jose Mercury News