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Natural Resources, Waste & Environmental Health
Oakland is located in a region abundant with natural resources upon which we rely for food, water, energy, raw materials, recreation and respite. Yet these resources are limited, and natural systems are threatened by the impacts of development, pollution, and over-consumption. City policies related to creek protection, zero waste, climate change, toxic materials and other issues are designed to protect the health of our natural environment and make best use of natural resources.
Zero Waste - In March 2006 the Oakland City Council adopted a Zero Waste Goal by 2020 Resolution, and commissioned the creation of a Zero Waste Strategic Plan to achieve the goal.
Solid Waste Reduction - Between 2000 and 2010, the amount of material sent to landfill from Oakland residential properties decreased by 27%, while the amount of material recycled, including organics, increased by 33%. Total citywide solid waste disposal in landfills decreased by 31% during this period, helping to conserve vital natural resources such as forests, water and soils, reducing Oakland’s carbon footprint, and demonstrating steady progress toward Oakland’s adopted Zero Waste goal.
Bring Your Own Bag Campaign - The City’s Bring Your Own Bag Campaign has reduced waste by distributing 164,500 reusable bags over the last two years. These reusable bags replaced single-use bags, helping to reduce litter, protect our waterways and conserve natural resources.
Residential Recycling - On January 31, 2005, the Environmental Services Division of the Public Works Agency introduced the first major modification to Oakland’s residential recycling program since the addition of yard trimming service in 1995. The existing yard trimming program was expanded to include food scraps and to accept unlimited amounts of yard trimmings, with collection increasing from bi-weekly to weekly service. The tub-based curbside recycling program, which was previously provided as a weekly service in only half of the City, was replaced by a weekly single-cart service throughout Oakland. The results of this expansion have been dramatic: yard trimming tonnage has increased by over 46% compared to 2004, and recycling tonnage increased by 37%.
Business Recycling - The City of Oakland provides free technical assistance to Oakland businesses to start or expand their recycling programs. The Small Business Recycling service is a low-cost, curbside recycling service sponsored by the City. The City participates in the StopWaste Partnership, which is a free technical assistance service dedicated to improving the environmental performance and reducing costs of Alameda County businesses and public agencies. The program provides expert support and funding to prevent waste, conserve water and energy, and use all resources more efficiently.
Construction & Demolition Recycling - In July 2000, the Oakland City Council passed the Construction and Demolition Debris Waste Reduction and Recycling Requirements which requires nonresidential or apartment house addition or alteration projects that have a permit valuation $50,000 or greater in year 2000 dollars (subject to inflation adjustments) to recycle 100% of all Asphalt & Concrete materials and 65% of all other materials.
Polystyrene Foam Ban - In June 2006, the Oakland City Council passed the Green Food Service Ware Ordinance which prohibits the use of polystyrene foam disposable food service ware and requires, when cost neutral, the use of biodegradable or compostable disposable food service ware by food vendors and city facilities.
Lake Merritt Improvements Improve Stormwater Quality - Robust improvements around Oakland’s Lake Merritt are improving water quality, enhancing habitat in and around the lake, expanding park space, calming traffic, improving bicycle and pedestrian access, and creating a more enjoyable experience for Oakland residents and visitors. Projects completed in 2010 included installation of trash capture technology to remove stormwater pollutants from Lake Merritt and the Oakland Estuary, and reconstruction of bird islands offering valuable habitat. These projects were supported by Oakland’s Measure DD and the State Water Resources Control Board.
Bay Friendly Landscaping Policy - The Oakland City Council adopted an ordinance in July 2009 requiring all City of Oakland, Oakland Redevelopment Agency, and public-private projects funded by the City or Redevelopment Agency to comply with Bay Friendly Landscaping guidelines, reducing water needs and waste. City maintenance operations are also following these guidelines.
On February 19, 2003, the Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Francisco Bay Region, issued a municipal stormwater permit under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program to the Alameda Countywide Clean Water Program (ACCWP). The purpose of the permit is to reduce the discharge of pollutants in stormwater to the maximum extent practicable and to effectively prohibit non-stormwater discharges into municipal storm drain systems and watercourses. The City of Oakland, as a member of the ACCWP, is a co-permittee under the ACCWP’s permit and is, therefore, subject to the permit requirements.
Provision C.3 of the NPDES permit is the section of the permit containing stormwater pollution management requirements for new development and redevelopment projects. Among other things, Provision C.3 requires that certain new development and redevelopment projects incorporate post-construction stormwater pollution management measures, including stormwater treatment measures, stormwater site design measures, and source control measures, to reduce stormwater pollution after the construction of the project. These requirements are in addition to standard stormwater-related best management practices (BMPs) required during construction.
Beginning February 15, 2005, all new development and redevelopment projects for which the City has not received a complete Planning and Zoning permit application that create or replace one acre or more of impervious surface are required to incorporate post-construction stormwater pollution management measures. Beginning August 15, 2006, all new development and redevelopment projects for the which the City has not received that a complete Planning and Zoning permit application that create or replace 10,000 square feet or more of impervious surface are required to incorporate post-construction stormwater pollution management measures.
- Stormwater treatment measures are engineered systems that use physical, chemical, or biological processes to remove pollutants from stormwater runoff. Examples of stormwater treatment measures include landscape-based systems such as vegetated swales, infiltration trenches, and detention ponds, as well as mechanical systems such as wet vaults and vortex separators.
- Stormwater site design measures are design techniques incorporated into new development and redevelopment projects intended to enhance the stormwater quality of a site by reducing the amount of impervious surface at the site. Examples of stormwater site design measures include permeable paving, landscaping strips, and directing roof runoff to landscaped areas.
- Source control measures are structural and operational practices to prevent stormwater pollution by reducing the potential for contamination at the source of pollution. Examples of source control measures include incorporating roofs over outside refuse areas and equipment storage areas, connecting interior floor drains to the sanitary sewer, and minimizing the accumulation of litter and debris on impervious surfaces.
Oakland's watershed has fifteen main creeks with over thirty tributaries - over 40 miles of open creeks. Because of this unique and precious resource, the City of Oakland, by implementing the Watershed Improvement Program has made environmental protection of creeks a priority.
The City of Oakland, along with the other cities in the county, is a member of the Alameda Countywide Clean Water Program (ACCWP). ACCWP acts to limit stormwater runoff pollution and to keep creeks and the Bay healthy.
Volunteers: Cleaning It, Greening It, Meaning It - Through the hard work and dedication of community volunteers, the City’s environmental stewardship initiatives are helping to preserve Oakland’s natural environment. Cleanup events occurring regularly in Oakland include: Creek to Bay Day, Arbor Day, Earth Day, Adopt a Park, Adopt a Creek, Adopt a Spot, and various neighborhood cleanup projects organized through the City’s Public Works Agency. Volunteers worked more than 70,000 hours in Oakland cleanup events and projects in 2010 alone.
Port of Oakland Maritime Air Quality Improvement Plan - The Port of Oakland released its Maritime Air Quality Improvement Plan in April 2009, guiding Port efforts to reduce air quality and health impacts of its maritime operations.
Truck Particulate Filter Replacement Program - In July 2009, the Port partnered with regional, state and federal agencies to provide $22 million for truck retrofits to help truckers meet new state air quality requirements.
Leading By Example - The City of Oakland continues to lead by example in greening its own facilities and operations. In 2009, the City achieved green business certification through the Alameda County Green Business Program for its downtown City Center complex (City Hall, 150 and 250 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza buildings and outdoor plaza area). Several other City facilities are in the process of re-certification.