Campaign Update: Oakland can relieve local flooding and water pollution – if it invests now

By Sidra Goldberg Pierson

Our weather has been hot and dry, but we know the rains will return this winter, bringing with them flooded streets and storm drains, carrying water, trash, and pollution into Lake Merritt, our creeks, and the San Francisco Bay. Oakland’s storm drains are a critical system in preventing this pollution, as they carry stormwater directly into the Bay. We know Oakland’s storm drain system is deteriorating, but no one knows just how bad it is.

The City of Oakland has a chance to fund critical storm drain system improvements now, through its two-year budgeting process. The City budget is being negotiated by the City Council and must be completed by the end of this month. Unfortunately, the Mayor’s initial budget didn’t include any funding for Trash Capture Devices which collect trash in the storm drain system and keep it from entering waterways. Council President Rebecca Kaplan’s budget included $1.5 million for Trash Capture Devices but the latest proposal already rolled this back to just $250,000. The City needs to show a lot more commitment to keeping trash out of our Bay.

Here’s What You Need to Know

Save The Bay is asking the City Council to reconsider their original proposal and include $1.5 million for Trash Capture Devices in the City budget. In addition, Oakland needs to update its Storm Drainage Master Plan.

We are concerned because we know that $250,000 is nowhere near enough for Oakland to achieve its trash capture goals and meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act. The city needs multiple large devices, as well as thousands of small devices to keep our waterways free of trash. The proposed $250,00 would only cover 100-200 small devices, or a small fraction of the cost of a large device. If the City budgets $1.5 million for this work, it will go much further in achieving the pollution controls the City needs, and ongoing maintenance for these devices. This will keep trash out of our creeks, Lake Merritt, and the Bay.

In addition to immediate installation of Trash Capture Devices, Oakland must fund critical planning to address its storm drain needs now and into the future. We are asking the Council to include additional funding for an evaluation of Oakland’s 400 miles of storm drains and pipes that carry polluted water to the Bay. We know this system is deteriorating, but no one knows just how bad it is. Updating the City’s Storm Drainage Master Plan will ensure Oakland’s infrastructure is resilient in the face of climate change, sea level rise, and flooding from large storms. You can read more about it in our last blog on this campaign.

Your Help is Needed!

You have the opportunity to influence Oakland’s budget before it is finalized at the end of this month. Please take a few minutes to call or email Mayor Schaaf, Council President Kaplan and your representative on the City Council (contact information listed below). We have provided a template that you can either copy and paste into an email or use as a script for a phone call. If you are unsure who represents you, look up your Council District here.

Thank you for your efforts to protect The Bay!

All DistrictsMayor Schaafofficeofthemayor@oaklandnet.com510-238-3141
All DistrictsCouncil President Kaplanatlarge@oaklandnet.com510-238-7008
District 1Council Member Kalbdkalb@oaklandca.gov510-238-7001
District 2Council Member Basdistrict2@oaklandca.gov510-238-7002
District 3Council Member McElhaneyAMarqusee@oaklandnet.com510-238-7003
District 4Council Member ThaoDistrict4@Oaklandca.gov510-238-7004
District 5Council Member GalloNgallo@oaklandca.gov510-238-7005
District 6Council Member TaylorDistrict6@oaklandca.gov510-238-7006
District 7Council Member Reidlreid@oaklandnet.com510-238-7007

Phone/ Email Script:

Hello, My name is ________, and I am an Oakland resident. I am calling/emailing to support the inclusion of $1.5 million for Full Trash Capture Devices in the budget – these devices will collect trash in the storm drain system and keep it from entering waterways.

But the City still needs to allocate additional funds to remain in compliance with the Clean Water Act and keep trash out of our Bay. I also support funding for an update the Storm Drainage Master Plan. These additions will protect our community from flooding during large storm events, prepare the city to meet regulatory requirements, and allow Oakland to partner with Caltrans to achieve critical funds to clean up trash in our stormwater. These key recommendations are in the Resilient Oakland Playbook and will reduce community flooding and pollution that harms public health, creeks, Lake Merritt, and the San Francisco Bay.

Thank you.