The Bay Planning Coalition, BAASICS.4: Watershed sponsor

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BAASICS.4: Watershed is made possible in part thanks to the support of our sponsor, the Bay Planning Coalition. The BPC’s mission, to build consensus on sustainable infrastructure development in the watershed, is a noble and important one, if also one that necessitates compromise on the part of both industry and environmental groups. This being the case, the BPC often plays a diplomatic role.

Currently, the BPC is advocating for the beneficial uses of dredged sediment for wetland development and environmental enhancement. Much of the marshland that historically fringed the San Francisco Bay has been lost to diking and flooding. A number of public-private partnerships are today working to restore large parcels of these historic wetlands. Such projects can protect near-shore and shoreline property while also creating sea level rise resiliency, enhancing water quality, and improving habitat for the Bay Area’s fish, birds, and mammals.

Manson dredging near Bay Bridge

Dredging near Bay Bridge

Encouragingly, more than 44% of the material dredged from the Bay during the past 12 years has been beneficially reused. But, because the substantial distance of priority reuse sites from the majority of the dredging activity, it is usually far more costly for dredgers to transport dredged sediment to beneficial reuse sites than it is for them to dispose of the sediment either in-Bay or at their Deep Ocean Disposal Site.

With that additional time and money in mind, the BPC collaborated with Save the Bay, the Bay Institute, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and other regional organizations to appeal to our federal representatives for support of the Water Resources Development Act/Water Resources Reform and Development Act legislation. Passed in Congress in the Fall of 2013, this legislation should provide adequate funding for dredging and beneficial reuse, as well as supporting clean energy, water development, and the protection of resources and infrastructure from flooding and sea level rise.

Another excellent example of vital BPC work is the ongoing conversation about ballast water discharge. All of the tanker ships and bulk cargo freighters that pass in and out of the Golden Gate to dock at one of the San Francisco Bay ports have huge ballast tanks in their hulls. When water is discharged from these holds, a host of organisms can be expelled with it. While many or most of the container ships that carry goods from port to port discharge and replace their ballast water while over the deep ocean — not while in the Bay or other nearshore waters — the Environmental Protection Agency has identified ballast water discharge as a major source of invasive species in United States marine waters. These “invasions” can be both ecologically and economically hurtful. Discouragingly, the San Francisco Bay is considered the most invaded aquatic ecosystem on earth.

Container ship under Golden Gate bridge

Container ship passing under Golden Gate bridge

So how does the BPC work to protect our marine habitats while also supporting the important role that maritime vessels play in our trade economy? In June of 2012, they convened two panels consisting of leading science and regulatory representatives from state and federal bodies as well as regional conservation and environmental organizations. One of the panels focused on the science and engineering of ballast water treatment, while the other turned its attention to ballast water regulations. The BPC’s ultimate goal of this meeting was “to facilitate productive and, hopefully, on-going dialogue with respect to ballast water treatment and reducing invasive species entering the San Francisco Bay.”

Too often, conservation efforts are stalled by black hat-white hat thinking and unfair characterizations of a given constituency. The BPC attempts to act as something of a buffer, a corrective, to this effect. It is at once a mouthpiece for industrial interests and an agent of positive environmental developments. BAASICS is pleased that an organization dedicated to achieving consensus on such challenging issues is working in the Bay Area, and we’re therefore proud to have the Bay Planning Coalition sponsoring BAASICS.4: Watershed.
More information on the BPC can be found on their website:

We recommend the BPC’s news feed, too, which features stories from around the Bay:

Finally, check out the BPC’s first two events of 2014, “Expert Briefing: Abandoned Vessels” (1/20) and “Workshop: Ocean Planning – How Will It Affect the Maritime Industry?” (2/12).

Image credits: courtesy, Bay Planning Coalition

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