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Celebrating Pollution Prevention All Year Long is a Way of Life for Autumn Ross

SFPUC Pollution Prevention Specialist Autumn Ross holding her baby in a grassy field
  • Autumn Ross
SFPUC Pollution Prevention Specialist Autumn Ross

It’s beautiful here in California, not to mention in the Bay Area and especially in San Francisco! I have always felt lucky to live in a place this beautiful. I think that’s why, even as a kid growing up in Half Moon Bay, I knew I wanted to spend my time doing something to help conserve and preserve our natural environment. Pollution Prevention was a seamless fit, although it wasn’t a straight path here.

After studying coastal and marine ecology in Monterey, CA for four years, I came to San Francisco to get a Master of Science in a Wetland Ecology lab. I did three years of fieldwork in San Francisco Bay – getting up at all hours to restore important tidal zones, freezing boat rides in the dark (had one experience with hypothermia and don’t recommend it!), and getting stuck in mud up to your hips. I’m forever grateful for that time because I saw sunrises, clear and calm waters, harbor porpoises, bat rays, white pelicans, eelgrass sea hares, and leopard sharks.

That experience also made me want to work for the City and County of San Francisco and be part of what protects the San Francisco Estuary. I’ve been the Pollution Prevention Specialist for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC)’s Wastewater Enterprise for five years, and I can honestly say I’ve got a job my 10-year-old self would be so proud of. The SFPUC is committed to preventing pollution, protecting downstream water quality, and keeping the bay a healthy environment for people and animals.

SFPUC Pollution Prevention Specialist Autumn Ross with her baby

If you aren’t sure what Pollution Prevention means, for the SFPUC it means preventing pollutants at their source to keep our wastewater stream clear of toxic chemicals. Everyone can lend a hand, big or small, to help prevent pollution. In the spirit of Pollution Prevention Week, here are a few of my favorite tips because of how easy they are to start doing:

  1. Wash your car at a professional car wash.
  2. Use non-toxic gardening supplies.
  3. Pick up after your pet.

You can also get more details on our website at sfpuc.org/PollutionPrevention if you want to learn more and get an annual Pollution Prevention calendar for more tips!