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Meeting The Challenge

Insufficient staff and lack of funds prevent well-intentioned government agencies from effectively monitoring and enforcing environmental laws such as the Safe Drinking Water Act. For example, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission is California's federally designated management agency charged with patrolling 1600 km of shoreline and 1500 km of water to ascertain that no one is illegally polluting San Francisco Bay. In addition, it handles hundreds of cases arising from its monitoring activities. The agency is severely understaffed and cannot adequately protect the bay.

San Francisco Bay, like most other aquatic ecosystems, is endangered by the combine impact of many different pollution sources rather than from a single diaster, such as occurred when the Exxon Valdez spilled oil in Alaska. Thus, continual monitoring is necessary to ensure that many irreparable harm to the bay.

A growing number of private citizens have become actively environmental laws to protect waterways in their communities. Provisions in the clean water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and other key environment laws allow citizens to file suit when the government does not enforce the laws. Citizen action groups also pressure forms to clean up.