State and Federal Government Sue San Francisco Over Sewage Dumping

San Francisco is being sued by California and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for allegedly dumping sewage onto public streets and into the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean.

At issue is the city’s combined stormwater-sewer infrastructure. The system captures both wastewater and stormwater before treating it and releasing it into waterways. But during heavy rains, the system gets overloaded and can’t properly disinfect the overflow. As a result, 1.8 billion gallons of untreated sewage have poured out since 2016, the lawsuit claims.

“If you go down to Mission Creek after these discharge events, you can see poop and trash floating, and it’s obviously urban discharge,” said Eric Buescher, senior staff attorney at San Francisco Baykeeper. His organization plans to join the EPA’s lawsuit.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission provided a statement to SF Gate, describing the lawsuit as “unfortunate.” The public would be better served through cooperation between the state, local and federal government to upgrade aging infrastructure, SFPUC said.