San Francisco has a growing algae problem that has killed massive amounts of fish populations and other marine life. Earlier this month, the San Fransisco Chronicle published an exhaustive report on the root cause of the problem and determined that the Golden Gate City’s aging sewage systems allowed human waste to overwhelm the Bay Area’s vulnerable ecosystem. From the Chronicle:
After an unprecedented harmful algae bloom first turned San Francisco Bay a murky brown color and then littered its shores with dead fish, many people assumed it was yet another climate disaster to add to the list, along with extreme drought, wildfires and heat waves.
While scientists suspect climate change played a role in triggering the bloom, what fueled it is not a mystery. Algae blooms need food to grow, and this one had plenty: nutrients originating in wastewater that the region’s 37 sewage plants pump into the bay.
A major challenge is that most of the treatment plants date to the 1970s and ’80s, after the passage of the 1972 Clean Water Act and other regulations. Previously, municipalities simply pumped raw sewage into the bay.
However, while blaming climate change — via high temperatures and California’s intense drought — the mainstream media acknowledged that sewage problem was also a factor. Last month The New York Times revealed:
A harmful algal bloom known as a red tide is killing off “uncountable” numbers of fish in the San Francisco Bay Area, with residents reporting rust-colored waters, and piles of stinking fish corpses washing ashore.
Though scientists can’t be certain what caused the algal bloom, experts say it is likely a combination of factors including warm water temperatures and a high concentration of phosphorus and nitrogen — the runoff from urban and agricultural sources as well as dozens of wastewater treatment plants that surround San Francisco Bay.
Even the Associated Press reported that wastewater nutrients were contributing to San Francisco’s algae problem:
Jon Rosenfield, a scientist with the San Francisco Baykeeper conservation group, said high levels of nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen in wastewater also drive the growth of algae blooms.
Rosenfield said sewage treatment plants are cleaning the water of solid material and bacteria, but they’re not designed to pull out nitrogen and phosphorus.
Treating the water for nutrients would cost billions of dollars, and those costs would be passed on to residents, White said. She said water districts are funding studies to understand the effects of nutrients that have been present in the water since people settled in the area.
Environmentalist and California native Michael Shellenberger noted that scientists over emphasized climate change, rather than citing outdated sewage plants, as the reason for San Francisco’s algae problems. But the irony of the Golden Gate City’s predicament was noted by the San Fransisco Chronicle quoting clean water advocate Kristi Deiner who said: “The irony is this is happening in the epicenter of supposed environmentalism.”
San Fransisco is a major hub of environmental political activism and the algae problem has been an issue that San Francisco politicos have known about for decades but, until now, did nothing until it became a major problem and now the city will have to spend massive amounts of money to address it resulting in even higher water bills.
Algae blooms are a national problem and, worst of all, in California they aren’t limited to San Francisco. For example and to his credit, last year Governor Gavin Newsom tried to push for a waste water treatment plant in southern California, but ran into stiff opposition from local media and environmentalists. Most likely, Newsom decided it would have been more cost effective to construct a new facility after a sewage spill from Los Angeles’s Hyperion Water Treatment Plant that revealed the plant was operating out of compliance with federal rules resulting from its outdated equipment.
Environmentalists complain about state and local waterways being used as toilets. But when solutions are proposed and attempts are made to address the problems, green groups oppose them citing things like a lack of environmental impact studies or heightened carbon footprint. No surprise that the spread of algae can result in marine life poisonings since it conveniently robs humans of the ability to consume seafood.
The algae problems in California and elsewhere are a clear indication that environmentalists consider humans (except themselves, of course) as only worthy living in their waste and, as the deaths of a California family reveal, the spread of algae contributes to people’s untimely demise. Algae-infested waterways are one more weapon in environmentalist’s arsenal in their war against mankind.
Image by Gretta Blankenship from Pixabay