Vital and Vulnerable? Delta Contemplates Climate Change

Vital and Vulnerable? Delta Contemplates Climate Change

With its pivotal role in California’s ecology and economy, the Delta’s ability to adapt successfully to climate change and sea level rise will have an enormous influence on how well the state as a whole adapts. “Most of the climate vulnerability work in the Delta so far has focused on water resource management, not the array of other potential impacts,” says Delta Stewardship Council’s Kate Anderson. In May, the Council issued an RFQ for an assessment of the Delta’s potential...
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Glimmers of Baywide Intent

“Bay Restoration is a race against time,” says San Francisco Restoration Authority Chair Dave Pine. “That’s why it’s so important to bring the regulatory agencies together to fast-track the permitting process.” The Restoration Authority, overseeing projects funded by Measure AA, took a step forward this June by approving funding for a Regulatory Integration Team. BCDC and six other organizations, including the US Army Corps of Engineer, the US EPA, federal and state wildlife agencies, and the state Water Board, joined...
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North Richmond: Building Equity in the Urban Fabric and Forest

The neighborhoods in North Richmond grew up with Richmond’s famed shipyards during World War II, along with railroads and a burgeoning fossil fuel industry. When you stand there today, you can literally see and hear this legacy of industrialization, which is also evident in the community’s high rates of poverty and asthma. Here the idea of resilient design means something completely different than it might mean in other parts of the Bay Area. It was these environmental justice concerns that...
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North Bay: Common Ground on a Grand Bayway?

Traffic-choked, flood-prone Highway 37, traversing the northern Bay Area, has been locked for years in a debate between restoration groups and transportation agencies seeking what they thought might be opposing goals: resilient landscapes and a roadway meeting the North Bay’s transportation needs. As part of the Resilient by Design Challenge, the Common Ground team was assigned to bridge the divide over the highway’s future. “Getting committed to a long-term process is like driving cross-country in a car with different people,”...
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Alameda Creek: Harnessing a Watershed for Public Sediment

In Resilient by Design team Public Sediment’s effort to unlock Alameda Creek, the key lies in sediment--raw material needed to build levees and raise marshes so shorelines can withstand sea level rise. “We’re designing a suite of special structures, a mix of living and constructed features, to move more sediment and create a dynamic new equilibrium for the creek,” says team leader Gena Wirth. To get a conversation about sediment going, Wirth’s teammate Claire Napawan will often start by talking...
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South Bay: Swaps and Sponges Create Absorbing Vision

East Palo Alto is a microcosm of Silicon Valley’s most pressing social and environmental issues. Home to low-income communities, the city faces rising rents and the displacement of longtime residents. As one of the lowest-lying communities in the Bay Area, it is also ground-zero for sea level rise in the South Bay. Although located at the northern end of Resilient by Design’s Field Operations Team’s 20-mile shoreline jurisdiction, much of their public engagement effort was focused on East Palo Alto....
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San Leandro Bay: Three Cities Confront Common Estuary

There’s no easy way to describe what makes the San Leandro Bay region of the East Bay so unique. Ask a design specialist, like Claire Bonham-Carter of Resilient By Design’s All Bay Collective, and she’ll point to “massive infrastructure--the Oakland airport, the BART station, two major roadways…” On the other hand, community activist Colin Miller of the Oakland Climate Action Coalition says “It’s the people that really makes it special.” Miller and the other All Bay Collective community advocates pushed...
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Making Youth Perspectives Count Beyond Educational Exercise

“Our work is 50 percent working with young people and 50 percent working with adults to understand how they need to work with young people,” says Deborah McKoy, Executive Director of Y-Plan, an educational arm of the UC Berkeley Center for Cities + Schools. Y-Plan has partnered with Resilient by Design to create a parallel challenge eliciting youth perspectives on complex issues surrounding sea level rise. At UC Berkeley’s Alumni House, students from twelve Bay Area schools gave presentations to...
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Marin City: A Peek into that Beautiful Future?

“What does it look like in resiliency planning when community voices take the lead?” That’s the question posed by Pandora Thomas of Permaculture + Social Equity Team. P+SET has partnered with Marin City as a part of the Resilient by Design challenge and the brand of resilience espoused by the community is non-negotiably local. To build local capacity in this predominantly African-American locality, P+SET held a community course that covered permaculture design and advocacy literacy. For many communities, acceptance of...
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Islais Creek: Hyper-Creek Mediates Hazard Sandwich

Situated between trendy Dogpatch and struggling Bayview-Hunter’s Point, the Islais basin is, according to Bry Sarté of Sherwood Design Engineers, “the biggest watershed in San Francisco and home to the city’s most disadvantaged community.” These days, Islais creek is mostly invisible, culverted and paved over between Glen Canyon upstream and its outfall near Third Street. Tasked with restructuring and reimagining the basin as a part of the Resilient by Design Challenge, Sarté and team BIG + ONE + Sherwood began...
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San Rafael: Elevating a Canal, City, Community

For the Latino and Vietnamese residents of the Canal District in San Rafael, sea level rise is a tangible threat—not by the end of the century, but right now. “If the Bay Area doesn’t respond in these places, where it’s abundantly obvious, how are they going to respond to the rest?” asks Marcel Wilson of Bionic Team, tasked with creating a more flood-proof San Rafael as part of the Resilient by Design challenge. “The easiest solution would be to gate...
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South San Francisco: Colma Creek Collect and Connect

On the south face of San Bruno Mountain, giant white letters read “South San Francisco: The Industrial City.” According to Richard Mullane, urban designer and Resilient by Design team member of HASSELL+, “that sign has given this city a massive identity problem.” As a part of the challenge to redesign a Bay Area more resilient to sea level rise, HASSELL+ has focused on the urban core of South San Francisco, currently a noisy mess of boulevards, freeways, and warehouses that...
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NYC and Novato Sewage Plants Adapt

The city of Novato completed its $100 million new wastewater treatment plant in 2011. Raising the old plant was expensive, but helped protect it from sea level rise for at least this century. “We took a pretty conservative approach,” says general manager Sandeep Karkal, “but we think we’re in pretty good shape, even for a worst-case scenario.” Novato is far from alone in thinking about the impact of sea level rise on wastewater management. New York City recently discovered how...
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Supply Side Synthesis

“Small sensors are the foundation of big science,” says Phil Trowbridge, director of the Bay’s Regional Monitoring Program which has just released a new synthesis report on sediment science. The report, combining the results of eight bodies of work, yielded some surprises concerning how much sediment moves from the Sierra and Bay watersheds to the Golden Gate. “The system is calming down after two huge disruptions,” says David Schoellhammer of the U.S. Geological Survey, referring to hydraulic gold mining and...
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Permitting Made Easier?

“Bay Restoration is a race against time,” says San Francisco Restoration Authority Chair Dave Pine. “That’s why it’s so important to bring the regulatory agencies together to fast-track the permitting process.” The Restoration Authority, overseeing projects funded by Measure AA, took a step forward this June by approving funding for a Regulatory Integration Team. BCDC and six other organizations, including the US Army Corps of Engineer, the US EPA, federal and state wildlife agencies, and the state Water Board, joined...
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Two-Way Bay: Estuary Leaders Reflect on Resilience

This 8-minute film interviews eight directors of water quality, restoration, and environmental programs around the San Francisco Estuary about their experience of the 2017-2018 Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge.
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SF State Launches New Floating Sentinel

Two banana-yellow buoys anchored along the Tiburon shore will be San Francisco Bay’s sentinels against shifts in water chemistry due to climate change. Known as the Bay Ocean Buoy (BOB) and the Marine Acidification Research Inquiry (MARI), the permanent moorings will provide long-term monitoring of acidity and carbon dioxide levels—key indicators of how the changing ocean will impact Bay chemistry. “It’s taken over three years of perseverance and partnership building to get these instruments into the water, but now we’ll...
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North Richmond Transitions

Today’s North Richmond shoreline looks much different from its historic blend of baylands, mudflats, and wet meadows. A lot of the land has been filled, or else fragmented by transit and industry. The region’s three creeks — the Rheem, the San Pablo, and the Wildcat  are mostly behind levees for flood control (the San Pablo and Wildcat Creek levees were raised in late 2017). The shoreline, and the 500 meters inland where the optimal marsh-upland transition zone could exist is...
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Two Urban Estuaries Soften Shorelines

For two cold clear days in February, scientists, engineers, and other specialists from all three North American coasts gathered at the Oakland Airport Hilton, in what a local speaker called “the least interesting part of Oakland,” for the second national Living Shorelines Technology Transfer Workshop. The event, co-sponsored by Restore America’s Estuaries, the California Coastal Conservancy, and Save the Bay, featured talks and interactive sessions on this emerging approach to coastal protection that went well beyond technology. Referred to by...
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Radar Envy

“The rule for releasing water is rigid and dates to the 1950s,” says Jay Jasperse of the Sonoma County Water Agency. Near the end of 2012, the US Army Corps of Engineers released 28,000 acre-feet of water from Lake Mendocino. Then followed 14 of the driest months on record. The key to managing the drought and deluge cycle of California lies in a better understanding of atmospheric rivers, intense winter storms that transport water from the tropics to the West...
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