The San Francisco Bay (Bay) drains water from 40 percent of
California. This includes flows originating from the Sierra
Nevada mountain range and the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers
that make their way down through Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta
through the Bay to the Pacific Ocean.
The Bay is the largest harbor on the U.S. Pacific Coast and
covers about 400 square miles with an average depth of 14 feet.
Its deepest point is 360 feet at the Golden Gate.
Every year, more than 67 million tons of cargo pass through the
Golden Gate. The Bay also supports commercial bait shrimp,
herring and Dungeness crab fisheries.
The Bay is a vital estuary and a key link in the Pacific Flyway,
and millions of waterfowl use the shallow portions of the bay as
a refuge each year.
For much of the 20th century, Fort Ord was one of the largest
light infantry training bases in the country … [L]eft behind
were poisonous stockpiles of unexploded ordnance, lead
fragments, industrial solvents and explosives residue, a toxic
legacy that in some areas of the base remains largely where the
Army left it. … The Army has set up two treatment plants
at Fort Ord to remove solvents and other contaminants from
groundwater. In 2021, 12,000 acres were removed from the
Superfund program, reflecting progress in the cleanup, though
fully cleaning up the groundwater could take another 30 years,
Eleven-year-old Gabriel Coleman and his friends Maarten and
Merel dug through driftwood piled on the shoreline under the
Dumbarton Bridge, doggedly on the hunt for pieces of plastic
and other debris to fill their white trash bags. “With
teamwork-makes-the-dream-work, we’ve been finding big pieces
and small pieces all over,” Gabriel proudly explained. The trio
from Newark was among thousands of volunteers who turned out
Saturday for the 39th annual California Coastal Cleanup at 695
beaches, lakes, creeks and rivers throughout the state —
including dozens of sites across every county in the Bay Area.
There’s no debate whether flooding is a serious risk for Santa
Venetia residents. … the county has started work on
repairing sections of the timber-reinforced earth berm that is
now protecting the area. … The wall, stretching from
Meadow Drive to Vendola Drive, is deteriorating. The county is
spending $300,000 to repair it. The plan is to finish the work
by the end of October, in time to upgrade protection before the
Meghan Holst studies the broadnose sevengill shark, so she was
naturally concerned when record-setting rain this year altered
the shark’s nursery grounds in San Francisco Bay. But the
species appears to have withstood the challenge, based on
initial observations from a recent outing on the water by
Holst, a 31-year-old doctoral student in conservation ecology
at the University of California, Davis. Next, perhaps,
will come California Fish and Game Commission protections for
the sharks in San Francisco Bay, which she considers a nursing
and pupping ground for a species believed to be in decline.
Research like hers can help support such a
designation. San Francisco Bay is one of the world’s only
known year-round nurseries for the species, Holst said, making
the habitat critical to monitor.
In recent weeks, the Oakland Estuary has morphed from an
innocuous playground for water sports into what the local
boating community describes as a semi-lawless stretch roamed by
marauding thieves and patrolled by vigilantes. It’s a drama
more suited for the high seas than the placid, 800-foot-wide
channel separating Oakland and Alameda. Yet according to those
who live and own boats in the area, the situation has escalated
into a true crisis. On Aug. 16, half the boats at the Alameda
Community Sailing Center, a sailing nonprofit for kids, were
taken in the night. At the Marina Village Yacht Club, residents
say they have been threatened by “pirates” scouting out the
docks. The Encinal Yacht Club, Jack London Square Marina and
the Outboard Motor Shop have all been victimized. In total,
over a dozen small boats and dinghies have been stolen in the
past three weeks.
[Jan] Sramek is leading a group of Silicon Valley moguls
in an audacious plan to build a new city on a rolling patch of
farms and windmills in Northern California was the unofficial
beginning of what promises to become a protracted and expensive
political campaign. … After that comes a gantlet of
environmental rules, inevitable lawsuits and potential tussles
with the state’s Air Resources Board, the Water Resources
Control Board, Public Utilities Commission and Department of
Transportation — not to mention the local planning commission
and board of supervisors who oversee land use in Solano County.
The saga surrounding a group of mysterious investors who have
spent more than $800 million to buy up thousands of acres of
farmland in rural Solano County has gripped Bay Area residents,
local politicians and federal government agencies. Last week,
the Chronicle reported that the investors were revealed to be a
group of Silicon Valley notables who seem to be gearing up to
build a new city. Here is what is known about the effort,
according to Chronicle reporting … And a myriad of
questions surround the project, including where its water will
come from, how developers would address the area’s risk for
flooding and extreme heat due to climate change, the impacts to
the state’s agriculture distribution chain, and transportation
concerns in an area currently serviced by a two-lane highway.
Six years after unveiling plans to build a 320-foot high dam
and reservoir at Pacheco Pass in southern Santa Clara County,
the largest water district in Silicon Valley still hasn’t found
any other water agencies willing to help fund the project. But
this week, an unusual potential partner came to light: China.
The revelation of interest from one of the United States’ most
contentious rivals is the latest twist in the project’s shaky
history: The price tag has tripled to $2.8 billion since 2018
due to unstable geology found in the area. The Santa Clara
Valley Water District, which is pursuing the plan, has delayed
groundbreaking by at least three years, to 2027, instead of
2024 as announced five years ago. And environmentalists won a
lawsuit this summer that will require more study of how ongoing
geological work will affect endangered plants and
Rebuilding State Route 37 to elevate it above water in the face
of rising sea levels got a welcome $155 million boost from the
$1.2 trillion U.S. infrastructure Law of 2021, the California
Transportation Commission announced this week. The two-mile
Marin County section of the 21-mile commuter artery that runs
alongside San Pablo Bay connecting Marin, Sonoma, Napa and
Solano counties marks the beginning of a larger $4 billion
project planned for the whole corridor. State transportation
officials say work is expected to start in 2027 and end two
years later. The $180 million project approved Aug. 18 by the
state’s transportation commission will raise the roadway by 30
feet over Novato Creek by 2029, well above the projected year
2130 sea-level rise.
The state received a significant boost to its efforts with
State Route 37 and San Pablo Bay last week with the infusion of
$155 million in federal funding. The California Transportation
Commission announced on Wednesday it formally allocated the
funds to elevate a key section of State Route 37 to guard
against future flooding on a vital regional corridor connecting
Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties and enhance habitat
connectivity for San Pablo Bay. The $180 million project will
raise the roadway by 30 feet over Novato Creek by 2029 — well
above the projected year 2130 sea-level rise. The $155 million
allocation comes from the federal Infrastructure Investment and
Jobs Act (IIJA) and is lauded by environmental groups and local
leaders who have been calling for investments to support the
long-term viability of state route 37.
The Marin Municipal Water District is preparing to launch more
in-depth studies of new water supply projects, beginning with
assembling consulting teams. The district board is set to vote
on contracts with new consulting teams next month to begin
preliminary technical, environmental and engineering studies of
larger, more complex projects. The projects include expanding
local reservoir storage, constructing a brackish Petaluma River
desalination plant and installing new pipelines to transfer
Russian River water directly into local reservoirs. Unlike the
broader study completed earlier this year that identified which
of the supply options the district could pursue, the more
in-depth analyses are needed to provide details on how and
whether they can be built, as well as the costs and
The red tide that gave East Bay waters a light brown sheen
earlier this month is likely over, declared the environmental
watchdog group San Francisco Baykeeper Monday. “I would say
this bloom is done for now,” said the group’s staff scientist
Ian Wren on a boat under the eastern half of the Bay Bridge,
where the water was olive green instead of a murky tea color
brought on by the bloom. … Even though the red tide has
dissipated, Eileen White, executive officer of the San
Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, is hesitant
“to declare victory.” … Last year the red tide —
literally billions of tiny algae called Heterosigma
akashiwo — killed an immeasurable amount of fish. This
year, the algae killed fewer than 100, according to a
state-run citizen science project. Sitings of important Bay
Area species, including sturgeons, bat rays and crabs, were
among the dead.
Rare photos show the transformation of Hetch Hetchy Valley from
untouched paradise to home of the O’Shaughnessy Dam, which
supplies some of the country’s cleanest water to 2 million
people in San Francisco and beyond.
Blasted by sun and beaten by waves,
plastic bottles and bags shed fibers and tiny flecks of
microplastic debris that litter the San Francisco Bay where they
can choke the marine life that inadvertently consumes it.
Estuaries are places where fresh and
salt water mix, usually at the point where a river enters the
ocean. They are the meeting point between riverine environments
and the sea, with a combination of tides, waves, salinity, fresh
water flow and sediment. The constant churning means there are
elevated levels of nutrients, making estuaries highly productive
Understanding the importance of the Bay-Delta ecosystem and
working to restore it means grasping the scope of what it once
That’s the takeaway message of a report released Nov. 14 by the
San Francisco Estuary Institute.
The report, “A
Delta Renewed,” is the latest in a series sponsored by the
California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW). Written by
several authors, the report says there is “cause for hope” to
achieving large-scale Delta restoration in a way that supports
people, farms and the environment. SFEI calls itself “one of
California’s premier aquatic and ecosystem science institutes.”
Zooplankton, which are floating
aquatic microorganisms too small and weak to swim against
currents, are are important food sources for many fish species in
the Delta such as salmon, sturgeon and Delta smelt.
The Pacific Flyway is one of four
major North American migration routes for birds, especially
waterfowl, and extends from Alaska and Canada, through
California, to Mexico and South America. Each year, birds follow
ancestral patterns as they travel the flyway on their annual
north-south migration. Along the way, they need stopover sites
such as wetlands with suitable habitat and food supplies. In
California, 90 percent of historic wetlands have been lost.
This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership
with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an
excellent overview of climate change and how it is already
affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists
anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and
precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are
underway to plan and adapt to climate.
15-minute DVD that graphically portrays the potential disaster
should a major earthquake hit the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
“Delta Warning” depicts what would happen in the event of an
earthquake registering 6.5 on the Richter scale: 30 levee breaks,
16 flooded islands and a 300 billion gallon intrusion of salt
water from the Bay – the “big gulp” – which would shut down the
State Water Project and Central Valley Project pumping plants.
Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is
today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the
fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically
important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system,
there have been some critical events that had a profound impact
on California’s water history. These turning points not only
forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives
of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a
historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped
the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with
background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.
Water as a renewable resource is depicted in this 18×24 inch
poster. Water is renewed again and again by the natural
hydrologic cycle where water evaporates, transpires from plants,
rises to form clouds, and returns to the earth as precipitation.
Excellent for elementary school classroom use.
This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explains how
non-native invasive animals can alter the natural ecosystem,
leading to the demise of native animals. “Unwelcome Visitors”
features photos and information on four such species – including
the zerbra mussel – and explains the environmental and economic
threats posed by these species.
This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explains how
non-native invasive plants can alter the natural ecosystem,
leading to the demise of native plants and animals. “Space
Invaders” features photos and information on six non-native
plants that have caused widespread problems in the Bay-Delta
Estuary and elsewhere.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing
uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta,
its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex issues
with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural
drainage, fish and wildlife, and water distribution.
A new look for our most popular product! And it’s the perfect
gift for the water wonk in your life.
Our 24×36 inch California Water Map is widely known for being the
definitive poster that shows the integral role water plays in the
state. On this updated version, it is easier to see California’s
natural waterways and man-made reservoirs and aqueducts
– including federally, state and locally funded
projects – the wild and scenic rivers system, and
natural lakes. The map features beautiful photos of
California’s natural environment, rivers, water projects,
wildlife, and urban and agricultural uses and the
text focuses on key issues: water supply, water use, water
projects, the Delta, wild and scenic rivers and the Colorado
Operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the
Bay Model is a giant hydraulic replica of San Francisco
Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta. It is housed in a converted World II-era
warehouse in Sausalito near San Francisco.
Hundreds of gallons of water are pumped through the
three-dimensional, 1.5-acre model to simulate a tidal ebb
and flow lasting 14 minutes.
Invasive species, also known as
exotics, are plants, animals, insects and aquatic species
introduced into non-native habitats.
Often, invasive species travel to non-native areas by ship,
either in ballast water released into harbors or attached to the
sides of boats. From there, introduced species can then spread
and significantly alter ecosystems and the natural food chain as
they go. Another example of non-native species introduction is
the dumping of aquarium fish into waterways.
This issue of Western Water looks at the BDCP and the
Coalition to Support Delta Projects, issues that are aimed at
improving the health and safety of the Delta while solidifying
California’s long-term water supply reliability.
This printed copy of Western Water examines the Delta through the
many ongoing activities focusing on it, most notably the Delta
Vision process. Many hours of testimony, research, legal
proceedings, public hearings and discussion have occurred and
will continue as the state seeks the ultimate solution to the
problems tied to the Delta.