Nov 30, 2013

San Francisco Bay is becoming clearer.

Decades of tidal action have finally washed away most of the mess created 150 years ago by Gold Rush miners who blasted apart hillsides in the Sierra Nevada. The result was millions of tons of mud, gravel and sand that made its way downriver and ended up in the bay, clouding its waters and coating the bottom with a level of silt up to 3 feet thick.

Most of the silt, scientists say, has now moved out to the ocean.

But what sounds like good environmental news has a significant downside: The clearer water is letting in more sunlight -- and that's causing a big increase in the amount of algae blooming in the bay.

David Senn is quoted in an article about microscopic plant life in the bay.

"If you applied a bunch of fertilizer to your garden but put a net over it that kept out the sun, that would prevent your plants from growing," explained David Senn, a senior scientist at the San Francisco Estuary Institute. "If you removed that shade, your plants would grow more rapidly."

Read entire article.

Associated Staff: 
Programs and Focus Areas: 
Clean Water Program