SWAle and Our Mission
SWAle is a coalition of environmental and community organizations that first joined forces in 1997 to address the impacts of accelerated development along San Francisco’s shoreline. The founding members recognized that unless addressed, the speed and size of increasing development would over-tax the city’s combined sewage and stormwater management infrastructure, resulting in the degradation of water quality in San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean and exacerbation of long-standing environmental justice impacts of the disproportionate burden of wastewater treatment facilities in the Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. SWAle’s mission is promote the protection and sustainability of San Francisco’s water resources by advocating for:
- Reduction of sewage overflows and polluted stormwater runoff;
- Implementation of sound wastewater treatment alternatives;
- Increased water recycling and conservation;
- Diversion of stormwater flows for beneficial uses;
- Cleanup of contaminated soil, groundwater, water bodies and waterways;
- Prevention of soil and water pollution;
- Environmental justice;
- Preservation and restoration of aquatic and wetland wildlife habitat and other environmental restoration.
Today, SWAle has grown to 23 organizations with members throughout the City of San Francisco.
SWAle’s Vision for Success
SWAle’s work to improve the way the City manages its wastewater will:
- Improve the safety of water-contact recreation
- Safeguard the health of those who consume Bay-caught seafood
- Foster a nature-based approach to wastewater management that prevents pollution, creates wildlife habitat, provides open space amenities and environmental education opportunities and provides a sustainable source of water for landscaping.
To accomplish this, a successful plan will do the following:
- Reduce CSOs by reducing inputs into San Francisco’s combined sewage and stormwater system. Means to accomplish this include:
- Reducing sewage flows to the central system through conservation, elimination of flows from outside San Francisco, and using localized plants to produce recycled water near its point of use;
- Separating the sewage and stormwater infrastructures where possible
- Allowing for the diversion of stormwater for beneficial uses such as green boulevards, cisterns that capture rooftop runoff, recharging of groundwater aquifers, and industrial uses such as cement manufacture and vehicle washing;
- Keeping rainwater out of the sewage system using infiltration strategies such as reduction of impermeable pavement;
- Desynchronization of stormwater flows to the treatment plant and CSO pipes.
- Assure the adequate treatment of potentially contaminated stormwater flows through the use of constructed wetlands, vegetated swales, mechanical separators, sand filters, and other means.
- Change codes and regulations to allow the implementation of green infrastructure strategies such as disconnection of roof downspouts from sewer pipes to allow rooftop catchment, etc., and elimination of pollution sources, such as zinc roofs.
- Effect changes in wastewater management that will improve quality of life and provide multiple benefits, prioritizing impacted neighborhoods, like the Bayview.