Current Issue at a Glance

DOWNLOAD December 2016 ISSUE

estuarynewsdec2016-v9b-final-webThis issue describes how stormwater regs are being used to shift the homeless away from creeks and towards services, as well as options for relocating the Estuary’s orphan species. It also highlights projects designed to grow more fish food in the Delta, why plastic can smell like bird food out in the ocean, and how spot-on flea treatments aren’t staying on our pets but migrating onto home surfaces, down the drain, and out to the Bay.

F E A T U R E D   A R T I C L E S

Urban Jungle Inspires Unique Regulatory Tack

By Robin Meadows

pastedgraphic-2California has nearly one-quarter of the nation’s homeless people—the most of any state by far—and thousands of them live in the Bay Area. Many are in outdoor encampments that lack basic services most people take for granted, including clean water, sewer hookups, and garbage collection. Out of all the social and environmental costs of homelessness, the trash that blows from encampments into waterways may help spur a solution. Under a new resolution, trash from homeless encampments now falls under the stormwater permit that requires Bay Area cities and counties to get storm drains virtually trash-free by 2022. READ ON

The Dirt on Flea Control

By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto

pastedgraphic-6It’s hard to go to the big box pet store and not stumble over the flea control displays. Most pet owners have dabbed or squirted Frontline or Advantage between their cat’s shoulder bones or onto the back of their dog’s neck, but who would guess this same chemical would make its way off our pet’s fur, down the drain, through wastewater treatment, and into the Bay? Apparently all the petting and shedding and subsequent washing of hands, doggies, and floors is moving flea-killing chemicals into our household wastewater, and the treatment plants aren’t getting it out again. READ ON

Options for Estuary Orphans

By Kathleen M. Wong

pastedgraphic-5The gold standard of conservation has always been to maintain species in their native habitat. But the outlook for the Sacramento Delta is now so dire that eminent scientists are calling for more radical methods to keep endemic species alive. In this December’s issue of
 San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science, three eminent scientists report that “it is increasingly irresponsible to focus entirely on a policy of in situ conservation through habitat protection and restoration.” Researchers are already maintaining a captive “refuge population” of Delta smelt in captivity. Is the next step translocating winter-run Chinook to the Arctic Circle? READ ON

M A G A Z I N E   I N   B R I E F

Banking Fish Food

By Nate Seltenrich

pastedgraphic-3Delta smelt and Chinook salmon living in one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions are not getting enough to eat. Scientists now believe this shortage of food is a significant factor in both species’ dramatic decline. But a pair of experiments designed
 to improve food supplies for the fish have shown promising results to date, and could soon be implemented on a larger scale. READ ON

Fishway Under Freeway

By Lisa Owens Viani

pastedgraphic-7When the state built the I-80 freeway in the 1950s, they put Pinole Creek in a 400-foot-long double box culvert below, creating an obstacle for migrating steelhead. After that, only a rare, super fish or two from the Bay could swim upstream to better spawning habitat.  In 2016, the steelhead finally got a new low-low channel (“fishway”) to take them through one of the twin culverts. READ ON

Dehydrated Estuary

By Lisa Owens Viani

pastedgraphic-8A new report highlights how the ongoing lack of freshwater in the Estuary system is causing whales off the coast to starve—and the entire estuarine food web to decline. Meanwhile, new State Water Board recommendations aim to settle the question of what percentage of unimpaired flow fish in the San Joaquin River need to survive, let alone thrive. READ ON

The Olfactory Trap

By Joe Eaton

pastedgraphic-4As plastic waste accumulates in the world’s oceans, more seabirds have been swallowing it. UC Davis researchers
 say the avians are deceived by chemical signals in the form of a smell that reliably led their ancestors to tasty krill and other crustaceans. READ ON

Valley Version of RMP

By Ariel Rubissow Okamoto

valley-photo“Buckets in the water and boots
 on the ground,” is the current sta
tus of the Delta Regional Monitoring Program, according to manager Phil Trowbridge of the Aquatic Science Center. While this effort to coordinate and synthesize water quality monitoring results from the Delta started actual sampling more than a year and a half ago, the Program is now poised to deliver its first data reports. READ ON

A Harry Potter View of SLR

By Tira Okamoto

pastedgraphic-1As a recent graduate entering the climate workforce, I have realized that choosing a climate change focused career is like choosing to be Harry Potter. You are accepting a mission 
to save both the climate in-the-know and deniers from an evil so dangerous all could be lost. Like Harry, we must acknowledge that working together produces stronger results. Attending a Bay Science Collaborative event this past September gave me hope. READ ON

Election Silver Lining

By Cariad Hayes Thronson

election-photoAlthough the results of the 2016 general election have created a stormy outlook for countless federal environmental programs and policies, Bay Area environmental advocates are slightly cheered by a handful of successful state and local initiatives that promise to benefit the Bay and local waterways. READ ON