Estuary News Archive


2012 – 2016 Issues of Estuary News magazine

Estuary News has been in print since 1991, and within its pages you will find the history of efforts to restore, manage, and understand the ecology of, and human impacts on, the West Coast’s most urbanized estuary. Just click on the covers below to examine each PDF. More back issues will be coming on line soon.


[tab_item title=”2016 Issues”]

September 2016

estuarynewssept2016-v11-finalweb-thumbnailThe September issue of ESTUARY News magazine explores transitions in wetland protections, describes new computer models designed to track how nutrients move around the Estuary, and takes readers into a college class engaged in sorting mucky bottom sediments for benthic creatures such as invasive overbite clams. The issue also reviews a new neighborhood creek restoration book, a new Delta report on vegetation on levees, and how birds have responded to salt pond restorations. Finally, responding to reader requests, the issue also delves into seven magazine stories from 2012 to 2016 to see what’s happened since.[space height=”5″]Featured stories:
Wetland Protections in Transition By Cariad Hayes Thronson
Nutrient Nuances Modeled By Lisa Owens Viani
College Class Tracks Invasive Clams By Marilyn Vogel Browning, Diablo Valley College

June 2016

ENEWS June Cover

The June issue covers the latest on climate change adaptation with the watershed — from managing forests to increase snowpack above the San Joaquin Valley to reimagining a derelict urban shipyard and prioritizing shoreline investments based on new decision making tools. Other stories preview the 2016 CCMP and delve into its history, and touch on topics like offshore responses to global warming and innovations in pipe replacement for utilities struggling with aging infrastructure.[space height=”5″]Featured stories:
EBMUD Experiments With Pipe Replacement By Nate Seltenrich
Deliquescent Summit on Ocean Climate By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto
Buckler Brouhaha By Joe Eaton

March 2016

March 2016 ENEWS coverThe March issue covers the Estuary north, south, east and west. It details lessons being learned from a rock barrier on the False River designed to prevent salt water intrusion into the Delta, and says farewell to the grande dame of Bay research, a yacht called the Polaris now being replaced with a catamaran. The issue also explores the buzz on “resilience” in climate change planning and then gives the low down on two recent restorations at opposite ends of the Bay: one on Sonoma Creek and the other at Bair Island. An opinion piece urges support for Measure AA and science news tracks El Niño effects on the movement of mercury and sediment.

[space height=”5″]Featured stories:
Keeping the Salt Feild at Bay II By Robin Meadows
Mainstreaming Resilience By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto
Bay Belle By Joe Eaton
Do the Pieces Fit? By John Hart

[/tab_item][tab_item title=”2015 Issues”]

December 2015

Cover 100x130This issue explores why the Water Board calls a South Bay cement quarry “the most under-regulated facility” in the region, and how more microplastics have been found in San Francisco Bay than in the Great Lakes. You’ll read about steps taked to protect fish in the Bay Bridge blow up and the extra dose of sediment coming to the Estuary’s southern shallows courtesy of the drought. This issue also highlights some startling findings from the 2015 State of the Estuary Report.

[space height=”10″]Featured stories:
The Most Under-Regulated Facility By Lisa Owens Viani
No Drought of Dirt By Joe Eaton
Unhealthy Fiber in Bay Diet By Jacoba Charles

September 2015

Estuary-Sep2015-v6-web-final-pdf-image-116x150As the drought drags on, the state has revealed its new, scaled-down plans—deconstructed by writer Joe Eaton—for rehabilitating the broken Delta. The Delta and its complicated plumbing and flows are also tackled by nine Estuary experts in our “Pivot” story. We asked them to share their views about old ways of doing things that no longer work, especially with sea level rise and climate change upon us, and their ideas for change. Other stories cover new ideas and technology for monitoring Delta levees, and new methods of tracking even the smallest pollutants—both natural and not so natural—that can affect the health of the Bay and people.

[space height=”10″]Featured stories:
Scaled-Down Plans to “Fix and Restore” By Joe Eaton
Pivot or Pirouette? By Ariel Rubissow and Lisa Owens Viani
CCMP Revision Preview By Caitlin Sweeney

June 2015

June CoverAs the drought tightens the screws on human use of California’s evaporating water supply, conservation, restoration and collaboration grow ever more important. This issue explores some current opportunities for constructive action, from using empty aquifers as reservoirs to restoring marshes so they “retreat-ready” for sea level rise and giving river floodplains more than another layer of rip rap. Other stories cover the darkening future of California’s Chinook salmon, the lack of evidence that delta smelt can be blamed for stealing anyone’s water, and a kitchen-sink test for emerging contaminants.

[space height=”10″]Featured stories:
Filling Up on Empty By John Hart
No Scapefish in Drought Wars By Joe Eaton
Beyond the Blubber By Ariel Rubissow

March 2015

March 2016 CoverThe issue also drills down into the subtler science of contaminants, from mercury in fog to copper effects on salmon senses and the nature of the mystery goo that slimed Bay birds in January. Hopeful events are also covered: the North Bay’s Cullinan Ranch felt the touch of the tides for the first time since the 1880s and SFEP is working hard to update the grandest plan to save the health of the Estuary ever: the CCMP.

[space height=”10″]Featured stories:
Copper Effects on Salmon Influenced by Salinity By Joe Eaton
Cullinan Finally in the Fold By Joe Eaton
Rethinking our Grandest Plan for the Estuary By Ariel Rubissow


[tab_item title=”2014 Issues”]

December 2014

COVERSMALLEstNewsDec2014-v5The December issue explores progress on stormwater management in four counties, planning for sea level rise impacts on sewage plants, and why there may be a lack of willing sellers of properties targeted for the restoration of fish habitat in the Delta, among other topics.

[space height=”10″]Featured stories:
Offers They Can Refuse By Joe Eaton
Beyond the Bag Ban By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto
Two-Way Threat to Intakes and Outfalls By Nate Seltenrich

September 2014

The September issue delves into new science on how to identify plankton species by color, new surveys on the spread of invasive sea lavender, and surprising findings concerning PCB levels in small fish. It covers the disappointing end to a bid for Wild and Scenic River status for the Mokelumne, and the slow pace of restoration along Alameda Creek. Other stories discuss the impacts of drought on valley wildlife refuges, protocols to make Delta restoration projects more efficient, and a new film about Pelicans.

Featured stories:
Alameda Work Trickles On By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto
Wild River Lands in Suspense File By Joe Eaton
Defter Delta Restoration By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto

June 2014

ENews - June 2014 - Front Cover - 150x194The June issue tackles new science on steelhead and mercury in restored salt ponds and screening irrigation intakes to protect endangered sturgeon. It explores options for getting more sediment to North Bay restoration sites, controlling invasive chamomile, and adapting to climate change on the ground. It also drills down into the details of balancing demand on groundwater with recycling and conservation in light of drought. Other stories cover Bruener Marsh, Ora Loma Sanitary District, and UC’s new Vernal Pool reserve.


Featured stories:
Freeing Fish While Locking Up Mercury By Joe Eaton
Hamilton Done But More To Do By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto
Shifts in Selenium Spikes By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto

March 2014

EstNews-Mar2014-cov100It was so dry this winter Bay marshes browned, Sierra reservoirs dropped, and Delta waters cleared. California’s climate may still be Mediterranean but this year’s extremes are stressing fish, farmers and wildlife, leaving water and ecosystem managers planning for the worst. In this issue, ESTUARY explores the decline of longfin smelt, the innovative acquisition of a North Bay ranch for public wetlands, changing nutrient conditions in the Bay that could spur harmful algal blooms, and efforts to stave off drought impacts on salinity intrusion in the Delta. Other articles cover a new book on Suisun Marsh, a new community-supported fishery, and the retirement of the first woman hired to guard San Francisco’s water supply. You’ll also find a special section describing California efforts to help park, forest and wildlife managers cope with climate change.

Featured stories:
The Island that Came in from the Cold By Joe Eaton
Keeping the Salt Field at Bay By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto
Bay Primed for Pea Soup?
By Robin Meadows

January ENews Archive CoverJanuary 2014
State of the Estuary Conference Summary

This special online issue of ESTUARY News magazine sums up two days of presentations and discussions on the health of the San Francisco Bay estuary. The October 28-30, 2013 State of the Estuary Conference drew more than 900 people to hear dozens of speakers describe everything from wetland restoration to contaminants of emerging concern, not to mention the latest politics of water development and conservation. Due to reduced federal funding in 2013, there was no paper version of this issue. Officially, this is the final 2013 issue. In 2014, the magazine went quarterly starting with March.

MENTIONS: ABAG, Be the Street, BASMAA, Cal Coastal Conservancy, Cal DPR, Cal Dept. Toxic Substances Control, Cal DWR, Cal EPA, Cal Fish & Wildlife, Cal Historical Society. CalTrans, CEMAR< City of San Jose, City of Walnut Creek, Collaborative Science & Management Program, CVRWQCB, Delta Protection Commission, Delta Stewardship Council, Ducks Unlimited, East Bay Regional Park District, Environment Canada, EOA Inc., ESA-PWA, Golden Gate Cetacean Research, Invasive Spartina Project, LTMS,  Living Shorelines Project, Napa County RCD, NOAA Fisheries, Oakland Museum, Point Blue Conservation Science, RMP, Public Policy Institute of California, SF Bay Bird Observatory, SFBCDC, SF Bay Joint Venture, SF Bay Restoration Authority, SFCJPA, SFEI, SFEP, SFPUC, SF State University, Santa Clara Valley Water District, Save the Bay, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Sonoma County Water Agency, South Bay Salt Pond Project, SWRCB, SFBRWQCB, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, University of the Pacific, USBR, USCOE, USEPA, USFWS, USGS, 5Gyres,  and more.

Featured Stories:
Choosing a Future for the Bay By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto
Investing in Flood-Resistant Shorelines By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto & Joe Eaton
One Estuary, Many Plans By Chris Austin
Tracking Next Generation Pollutants By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto
Porpoises Are In, Hybrid Spartina Out By Joe Eaton
Engineering the Delta Marshes of Tomorrow By Victoria Schlesinger
Baylands Remodels Make Progress By Joe Eaton
Mice and Sculpins Scope out New Habitat By Joe Eaton
Intercepting Toxic Plastic Trash By Victoria Schlesinger
Restoring Water Quality with TMDLs By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto
Managing CECs: An Ounce of Prevention By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto
Building Resilient Baylands By Joe Eaton & Ariel Rubissow Okamoto
Delta Economics and Ecosystem Management By Chris Austin
One Delta, One Science By Paula Trigueros & Ariel Rubissow Okamoto
Sharing Our Stories of the Estuary By April Kilcrease
Scaling up from Reach to Region By Joe Eaton

[tab_item title=”2013 Issues”]

Image of Estuary News Cover for October 2013October 2013

This special issue of ESTUARY News magazine celebrates the CCMP’s 20th anniversary. Like the black skim
mer (Rynchops niger) that frequents San Francisco Bay, it barely breaks the surface of the myriad activities that have either grown out of the CCMP,
 or contributed to its implementation. Even just a snapshot review suggests that almost 600 projects, undertaken by diverse partners, have implemented the CCMP in some way or another in the last 20 years.

MENTIONS: ABAG, Brake Pad Partnership, Cal Coastal Conservancy, Cal DPR, Cal DWR, Cal Fish & Wildlife, East Bay Regional Park District, Friends of Creeks groups, IRWMP, LTMS, Nature Conservancy, NOAA-NMFS, North Bay Watershed Association, Point Blue Conservation Science, NRCD, Save the Bay, SFBCDC, SF Bay Joint Venture, SF Bay Restoration Authority, SFEI, SFEP, Santa Clara Valley Water District, Sonoma County Water Agency, SWRCB, SFBRWQCB, USCOE, USEPA, USFWS and more.

Featured Stories:
The CCMP: Long Story Short By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto
Fish Down Invasions Up, Flooding Soon By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto
A Giant Step from Species to Landscapes By Joe Eaton
Keep It Out or Clean It Up By Robin Meadows
From Bay Mud to Building Material, From Lockdown to Smooth Sailing By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto
Thinking Like a Region, No Walk in the Park By Joe Eaton
More Efficiencies, But Not More Water By Aleta George
Getting People On the Bandwagon By Joe Eaton

June Cover - 100x130June 2013

Paddling the Bay’s water trail, restoring Florida’s Kissimmee River, currents versus catamarans in San Francisco Bay, and Back to the Future for the Habitat Goals.

MENTIONS: America’s Cup, Cargill, Bay Planning Coalition, Point Blue Conservation Science, Richardson Bay Audubon Center, South Florida Water District, URS Corps; IEP, DWR, SCC, SFEI, USEPA, USFWS, USGS.

Featured stories:
Everglades Ease into Restoration By Susan Zakin
Cap and Trade Roadshow, Six Months Later By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto
Interview with Letitia Grenier: Back to the Future for Habitat Goals
By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto

April 2013

Sustaining a living estuary like San Francisco Bay is no cakewalk. You’ve got to sidestep through unpredictable things like invasive clams, seasonal flows, climate change, and restoration budgets. And you’ve got to power through the twists and turns of politics and land use debates. The prize might not be as obvious as a lupine in the spring sunlight. But it sure beats sitting out the last dance…

MENTIONS: Alameda County Fish & Game Commission, Assoc. National Estuary Programs, CalRecycle, Cal SCC, Drakes Bay Oyster Company, ESA-PWA, Exploratorium, Napa County Mosquito Abatement, SF Bay Joint Venture, SF State University, Sierra Club, USCOE, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, USGS, Watershed Project.

Featured stories:
Clams Muddle Delta Restoration by Robin Meadows
Way-Cool Observatory by Ariel Rubissow Okamoto
The Laid Back Levee by Joe Eaton
Wet Feet for Silicon Valley? by Susan K. Moffat
Slow it, Save it, Sink it by Daniel McGlynn
How Wild Should Drakes Estero Be? By Jacoba Charles

February 2013

On the Left Coast, extreme tides are wetting our feet and teasing our brains with glimpses of a flooded future. Climate change is on a roll, and with it the prospect of accelerating sea level rise, and estuary scientists and managers are hustling to adapt.
Special Insert: California Landscape Conservation Cooperative

MENTIONS: ABAG, BAECCC, BCDC, Bodega Marine Lab, Cal-IPC, Cal Landscape Conservation Cooperative, ESA-PWA, National Estuarine Research Reserves, National Park Service, Point Reyes Conservation Science, San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority, SFEP, Sonoma Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Riverside, USEPA, USFWS, USGS.

Featured stories:
Interview with Jeremy Lowe: A Head Start on Rising Seas
Act & Adapt – A Tall Order for a Region by Nate Seltenrich
Acid Waters Soften Shells by Joe Eaton
Saving Homes from Swollen Creek by Susan K. Moffat
Managed Retreat by Joe Eaton
Creating science-based tools for on-the-ground climate planning and adaptation…

Note: The following frequently cited organizations are abbreviated above: ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments); BCDC (San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission); Cal DFG (California Department of Fish and Game); Cal DWR (California Department of Water Resources); Cal SCC (California State Coastal Conservancy); Cal SLC (California State Lands Commission); Cal SWRCB (State Water Resources Control Board); EBMUD (East Bay Municipal Utilities District); EBRPD (East Bay Regional Parks District); NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA); SFEP (San Francisco Estuary Partnership); SFEI (San Francisco Estuary Institute); SFBRWQCB (San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board); USCOE (US Army Corps of Engineers); UC (University of California); USEPA (US Environmental Protection Agency); USFWS (US Fish and Wildlife Service); USGS (US Geological Survey), etc.[/tab_item]

[tab_item title=”2012 Issues”]



Investigating the Delta’s historical ecology; preventing PCBs in caulk from entering runoff after building demolition; restoring Cullinan Ranch on the San Pablo Bay Wildlife Refuge; and managing drainage from seasonal wetlands in Suisun Marsh, which contain too much mercury and too little oxygen. Also, Japanese tsunami debris arrives on West Coast; two top scientists review key lessons from four decades of Bay ecosystem research; the Mokelumne River Crest to Coast Trail; and a Bay-Delta science conference town hall on how scientists and policymakers can better communicate.
Special Insert: Flame Retardants in San Francisco Bay, Regional Monitoring Program Fall 2012 Update
KEYWORDS: drivers of ecological change, ducks, food web, geese, eelgrass, linking science to policy, overbite clam, PCBs, trails, restoration, setback levee, wildlife refuge



Debating shipboard V shoreside ballast water treatment regulations for California to prevent aquatic invasions; dredging around eelgrass beds, a new federal policy; cataloging creek mouths for resilience; and boating with elected officials to learn about the Bay, a teenager’s view. Also sustainable growth in the Central Valley; research on the water temperature range tolerated by hardhead minnows; a national blueprint for water trails; HOA management of private wetlands; a bioblitz of citizen science; and new state dredge and fill protocols for California wetlands.
KEYWORDS: creeks, eelgrass, hardhead minnow, invasive species, land use, living shoreline, native fish, state wetland policy
MENTIONS: ABAG, Bay Planning Coalition, Cal SCC, Cal SLC, Cal SWRCB, Cal Energy Commission, Great Valley Center, Marin Municipal Water District, Marine Science Institute, NMFS, SFEI, SFEP, SF State University, UC Davis, UC Merced, US Coast Guard, US EPA


JUNE 2012

Measuring fresh water flow in the Delta through the flow station network; restoring wetlands with school kids at Hamilton airbase; accommodating both veterans and terns on Alameda naval base; and testing racks, screens, and lights as deterrents for sturgeon around irrigation intakes. Also, levee vegetation policy; legacy mercury mobilization from salt pond restoration; the downturn in restoration funding; abandoned vessel policy; wetland activist Florence La Riviere; and new greywater-friendly plumbing codes for California.
KEYWORDS: abandoned vessels, environmental education, flood control, flows, greywater, land use, least terns, levees, mercury, sturgeon, pollution, restoration
MENTIONS: Cal DWR, Cal SCC, Cal SWRCB, EBRPD, Golden Gate Audubon, PRBO-STRAW, the Navy, UC Davis, USCOE, USFWS, USGS


APRIL 2012

Cleaning up derelict vessels on San Francisco Bay; burning the fuel of the future (FOG-fat, oil and grease) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; designing micro-islands for shorebirds; and studying how fast restored wetlands reach reference conditions. Also, a regional monitoring plan for restored wetlands; an ecological history of the Napa Valley; and the views of three scientists (Swanson, Rosenfield, Winternitz) on the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan’s effects analysis.

KEYWORDS: avocets, bay regulation, clean energy, contaminants, delta planning, snowy plovers, wetland restoration
MENTIONS: BCDC, Cal SWRCB, EBMUD, National Academy of Sciences, Natural Resources Defense Council, SF Bay Joint Venture, SFEI, SFRWQCB, South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, The Bay Institute, The Nature Conservancy



Mapping two species of native pondweed in Suisun Bay; blaming stripers for salmon loss in the Sacramento River; and choosing projects to receive the settlement dollars from the Cosco Busan oil spill. Also, asphalt plant on the much- restored Petaluma River; Steve Crooks on blue carbon; climate change impacts on the Delta; and oil spill impacts on herring.

KEYWORDS: climate change, carbon credits, herring, oil spill, pondweed, predation, rivers, salmon, striped bass


Note: The following frequently cited organizations are abbreviated above: ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments); BCDC (San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission); Cal DFG (California Department of Fish and Game); Cal DWR (California Department of Water Resources); Cal SCC (California State Coastal Conservancy); Cal SLC (California State Lands Commission); Cal SWRCB (State Water Resources Control Board); EBMUD (East Bay Municipal Utilities District); EBRPD (East Bay Regional Parks District); NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA); SFEP (San Francisco Estuary Partnership); SFEI (San Francisco Estuary Institute); SFBRWQCB (San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board); USCOE (US Army Corps of Engineers); UC (University of California); USEPA (US Environmental Protection Agency); USFWS (US Fish and Wildlife Service); USGS (US Geological Survey), etc.[/tab_item][/tab]