For Immediate Release, July 24, 2014
Contact: Laura Horton, firstname.lastname@example.org, Wild Equity Institute, (415) 235-0492
Wild Equity Institute Challenges Harmful Sharp Park Water Quality Decision
San Francisco, Calif.—Wild Equity Institute is challenging the Bay Area Regional Water Quality Control Board’s approval of a controversial dredging project led by the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department at Sharp Park’s Laguna Salada wetland complex. The decision to approve the project was made despite clear harm to water quality and local species including the California Red Legged Frog and the San Francisco Garter Snake. The challenge will go before the State Water Resources Control Board.
“Rec and Park’s Sharp Park dredging project will cause devastating impacts to the water quality and imperiled species that depend on the area for survival,” said Laura Horton, Staff Attorney at the Wild Equity Institute. “We gave fair warning of these impacts to the Regional Water Quality Control Board, but our concerns were ignored and now the State Board needs to step in.”
California Red-Legged Frog, Photo © Brent Plater
Rec and Park is proposing to dredge and remove aquatic vegetation in Sharp Park’s Laguna Salada wetland complex—arguably the most ecologically important part of Rec and Park’s most biologically important land—so it can drain the wetland more rapidly during winter rains that cause flooding on the Sharp Park Golf Course. The project is called the Sharp Park Safety, Infrastructure Improvement and Habitat Enhancement Project and it has long been criticized by the environmental community. Rec and Park applied for a Clean Water Act Section 401 “Water Quality Certification” for the project, and in a shocking move, the Regional Board recently issued the certification even after acknowledging the potential harmful impacts of the dredging project to water quality and species at Sharp Park.
The dredging will cause the resuspension of sulfide in the water, which causes harm to wildlife, and Wild Equity requested that further testing be done on the site in comments to the Regional Board. Moreover, experts have explained that the aquatic vegetation to be removed can only grow in shallow water. If Rec and Park destroys the vegetation while draining the wetland to shallow levels, the vegetation will grow back, creating an ongoing, expensive, and harmful cycle of dredging and draining.
Despite the clear scientific evidence and likelihood of future harm, the Regional Board is allowing the project to move forward, citing poor data as a basis for its decision. Wild Equity is challenging the Regional Board’s decision at the State Board level in hopes that the decision will be overturned and further testing will be conducted to fully assess the potential impact of the dredging project.
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