QUALITY OF LIFE ISSUES IN JEOPARDY (02/17/11)
The population of San Francisco according to the latest 2010 Census Report is around 816,000. This number increases to over one million and on days when there are large conventions and sporting events and parades - to over one and half million. By far this population whether those that make their home here in San Francisco and those that come to visit us and leave - leave an imprint and for sure adversely affect our poorly maintained and delayed maintenance; that is our aging Infrastructure.
The billions we spend to upgrade our aging maintenance is tied to a lot of politics, thugs that wheel and deal behind the scenes carving out which PRIME contractor will get the share of PIE in proportion to the amount of money that is exchanged. This blatant corruption in well known to the Mayors of San Francisco, permanent and interim - and, of course the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the various City Department heads and never forget the City Attorneys and the Controller's office.
Over $2.6 billion has been contributed by San Francisco towards the Water System Improvement Project (WSIP) - over $2 billion when it comes to the Sewer System Improvement Project (SSIP) all to upgrade, replace, and address any pressing issues linked to any adverse impacts and more to address the Big One - the imminent Earth Quake that has over sixty percent probability to strike in the next five years which is a conservative guesstimate and others say for sure in ten years - giving us some time to address the situation at hand.
I have addressed the situation linked to the Water System Improvement Project (WSIP) in my past articles. The point in question that was deliberated was the constituents of San Francisco were promised that $2.4 billion would be used to address both the Clean Water as well as the Waste Water projects the first time around. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has failed to be fully transparent when it comes to informing the constituents exactly what is happening with that bond money that was supposed to addressed more than just the issues with the Clean Water - in this case the Waste Water too.
If you happen to attend the SF Public Utilities Commission meetings held in Room 400 at San Francisco City Hall - the presentations are convoluted and after spending hours most folks are not capable of addressing the issues discussed. Consumers have come before the SF Public Utilities Commission and tried to address their grievances but many a time the response has been very slow and the excuses many.
The SF Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) has some 2,300 plus employees working in 7 counties with an operating budget of over $700 million. 2.5 million customers living in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area pay to receive their water from SF Public Utilities Commission. 260 million gallons of water are delivered to customers daily. In San Francisco the SFPUC maintains over 1,235 miles of clean water pipes. In like manner the SFPUC maintains over 1000 miles of sewer pipes that also carry rain water beside the sewer. In San Francisco we have a dual system also known as combined sewers.
On any given day over 100 million gallons of sewage are treated and on rainy days this could be as much as 500 million gallons - in most cases over burdening the system. Eighty percent from the Phelps Treatment Plant of this goes into the Bay and the rest to the Pacific Ocean from the treatment plant by Ocean side near the San Francisco Zoo.
There are some pertinent factors to be noted; mainly that the combined sewers are old and leaking. Adversely impacting the watershed and what is important to note they are over 80 years old. Some of the sewer lines have been replaced but by far the majority will be replaced in the near future.
The same can be said of 1,235 miles of clean drinking water; they too are old with an average age of 75 years; as is with the dual sewer system, may be 5 percent of the pipes have been replaced when they have totally - failed. The SFPUC has deferred maintenance and now has an acute emergency on its hands.
There are the WEIRS, mostly before the outfall areas that are huge containment concrete boxes containing secondary effluents or better known as treated sewage. The WEIRS are debilitated and there has been no meaningful dialog on this critical factor.
The rise in Ocean water that contains salt is now causing a grave concern and already the operating systems - have been impacted and if too much salt water gets into the system the Waste Water Treatment Plant by Phelps Street in the Bayview - we could have a serious situation and the total failure of the plant. This plant at Phelps is old, with one Digester Tank Cover totally collapsed, the system needs upgrading and the Digester Tanks completely over hauled.
The Bayview Hunters Point community and the surrounding area a radius of three miles for sure is impacted by pungent, stench, and daily this stench causes the nearby constituents to get sick. Added, to that are the mosquitoes and other bugs that lay their eggs and take off to do their dirty work once hatched. The Nile Virus is well known to the SFPUC, the adverse impact linked to Methane Gas is also well known to the SFPUC. One ton of Methane gas equals twenty two tons of Carbon Dioxide - adversely impacting the fake Carbon Footprint.
In the past the SFPUC has chosen to distribute "sludge" that is one of the by products from the treatment plant - to be used as top soil for gardens and other uses linked with plants and trees. This practice is totally uncalled for; as this so called sludge is really contaminated soil. There is no way the Treatment Plant can abate radiological elements, animals feces, other chemicals in tons linked to medicines and so on. The SFPUC tried to pull a fast one but when some astute folks brought it to their attention they backed off. As far as I know NO sludge is distributed as composting; better sense prevailed.
A salient factor left out is factored in the nonchalant manner; when the SFPUC fails to respect the First People. The Miwok, the Paiutes, the other tribes that for thousands of years protected the Hetch Hetchy waters and called them SACRED, the First People are left out of the equation. Through the Raiker Act of 1913 the rich folks of San Francisco pressed Congress to provide this source, precious water, and they took it from the First People without their permission. Much as they took the land, raped the women, killed the children and Elders and think nothing much of it; there is KARMA and that day has arrived.
There are Quality of Life issues that must be address but few can address them in a manner that takes a bird eye view and looks at all the Cumulative Factors mostly linked with adverse impacts and contamination.
The source is depleting anyway we look at it; here in San Francisco the leaching contaminants have polluted the Watershed. Further when millions of so called half-treated sewage is dumped in the Bay and the Pacific Ocean - no one wants to take full responsibility. The Regulatory Agencies be it the Regional Water Board or the many other agencies - know about the adverse impacts and do not want to do anything about it.
No one should be permitted to contaminate without repercussions. No one should be permitted to break the law; no one should go Scott Free and think for a second that it is fine to harm anyone. This City and County of San Francisco has the Precautionary Principle but none of the SFPU Commissioners fully comprehend this Ordinance and law; less the head of departments that rake in thousands in remuneration, think that they are NOT responsible. I know some of them and others I do not want to know.
The Kudos that the SFPUC gets from quarters, have no clue about the real issues and belittles the KUDOS received. One must maintain high standards in all operations and reporting, there must be accountability and transparency. Meaningful dialog must be fostered and do not think for one single second there are is no one worth their salt; observing, monitoring and knowing how to connect the dots.