Estuary Blueprint

More About the Estuary Blueprint

Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan / CCMP

SFEP Planning Area Map


In 1993, when the San Francisco Estuary Partnership produced its first Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP), the community of participants was looking largely backward in time to the 19th century before massive population growth and ensuing development occurred around the Estuary. At the time, the science of how the Estuary worked was in its infancy, and the politics of managing San Francisco Bay and the Delta were embroiled in various battles over water supply, dredging, fish, pollution, and other environmental ills.

The 1993 CCMP used new science and regional partnerships to begin resolving natural resource conflicts and fixing damage to habitats and species of the Estuary. Its framers crafted goals and actions with an eye toward restoring the landscapes and waterways of a less disturbed era. They cast restoration objectives with the intent of bringing the Estuary back to the health and vitality of an earlier time.

Thirty years later, we know that we can never recover that Estuary; it is too altered by human development, too invaded by alien species, and too changed from the way it used to function historically. We do know, however, that we can bring back vibrant, healthy habitats to some parts of the Estuary, and that they in turn help recover endangered species. We also know that despite population growth, we can still conserve water, grow wetlands, green cities, and protect some wildlife. With these successes in mind, and with access to so many new shorelines for recreation and personal enjoyment, those who live around the Estuary are more eager than ever to help sustain it.

So what is to be the future of the Estuary that sits at the heart of 12 Bay Area and Central Valley counties and serves all of California as the hub of a critical water supply system? How can the people and communities that surround the Estuary best protect this economic engine and ecological treasure? Can we sustain all the beneficial uses of its waters—for drinking, irrigation, shipping, fishing, recreation—while reducing stresses on its habitats and wildlife and restoring them to health? If climate change and population growth continue as projected, what will the Estuary look like in 50 years? How do we plan for both expected changes and those we cannot yet foresee? What actions can we take now to help ensure a thriving Estuary in 2050, 25 years in the future?

These are the pressing questions that the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, working with hundreds of partners over the last 30 years, has sought to answer. And it is these questions that shape the core of our new Estuary Blueprint (formerly the CCMP). 

SFEP Planning Area Map

Estuary Blueprint History

The San Francisco Estuary Partnership’s Estuary Blueprint is a collaborative agreement about what should be done to protect and restore the Estuary — a road map for restoring the Estuary’s chemical, physical, and biological processes to health. The first CCMP, required under a reauthorization of the Clean Water Act in 1987, was produced in 1993 after several years of status assessments and policy discussions in which over 100 different stakeholder groups took part. It was the first plan to recognize that the Bay and the Delta should be managed as one Estuary, and remains the only plan of such scope to date. After 14 years of implementation, the CCMP was updated in 2007 to include new and revised actions while maintaining many actions from the original.

The 2016 Estuary Blueprint reflects the changing context of Estuary management over the last few decades. While this version incorporates many of the original CCMP goals, it has a new focus on the need to plan and adapt to climate change. In addition, the actions in the new Estuary Blueprint address the results of our 2015 State of the Estuary assessment. This assessment examined numerous science-based indicators of the health of five Estuary attributes: water, living resources, habitats, ecological processes, and people. This strong link between science and management will allow for a more direct evaluation of the outcome of our Estuary Blueprint actions.

The 2016 Estuary Blueprint revision represents a major overhaul of earlier documents. The 2007 CCMP included over 200 actions. The new structure includes 32 actions to be carried out over five years, connected to 35-year goals and objectives. By focusing on a more manageable number of priority actions, and updating priorities every five years, the Partnership expects to be more responsive and adaptable in the face of uncertain and changing environmental conditions.

2016 Estuary Blueprint Revision Process

The revision of the Estuary Blueprint took place over nearly three years and is the result of countless hours of effort from a broad range of organizations across the Estuary. The 2016 revision was guided by the following key objectives:

  • Implement a focused and strategic revision process that results in less than 50 priority actions.
  • Increase coordination and integration within the San Francisco.
  • Estuary Partnership’s entire planning area, both within the Bay and the Delta.
  • Acknowledge key regional plans and policy documents developed since publication of the first CCMP.
  • Include measurements to track progress for all actions and develop a tracking tool.
  • Integrate the State of the Estuary Report, State of the Estuary Conference, the Partnership’s Strategic Plan, and the Estuary Blueprint in an adaptive management framework for the Partnership.

Several governing bodies directed the efforts of the Estuary Blueprint revision:


  • San Francisco Estuary Partnership Implementation Committee (IC): The 27-member IC is made up of partners who are engaged in implementing the Estuary Blueprint. The IC meets quarterly and provided overall guidance, interim input, and final review and approval of the revised Estuary Blueprint.
  • IC Estuary Blueprint Steering Committee: Comprised of volunteers from IC. The 12-person Steering Committee met periodically to guide and direct the overall update as representatives of the IC, and served as content experts on Estuary Blueprint Program Area Subcommittees.
  • Estuary Blueprint Topic Area Subcommittees: Three initial subcommittees were formed on topic areas corresponding to the attributes of a healthy ecosystem as described in the 2011 State of the Bay Report: Living Resources, Habitats, and Water. The subcommittees were composed of Steering Committee members, San Francisco Estuary Partnership staff, and 20 additional outside experts. The subcommittees were responsible for developing key content for the revised Estuary Blueprint. Initially, the subcommittees met separately to develop content. They later joined to review the entire suite of goals, objectives, and actions.
  • San Francisco Estuary Partnership Staff Team: The staff team managed the overall Estuary Blueprint revision process, including: developing agendas for and facilitating Steering Committee meetings; providing guidance for, and participating directly on, Program Area Subcommittees; and compiling all content.
  • San Francisco Estuary Partnership Partners and General Public: Interested parties not on the Steering Committee and Topic Area Subcommittees provided input on interim products throughout the development process. A public draft of the Estuary Blueprint was released in 2015, and the document was revised in response to written comments. In addition, staff engaged partners and the general public through various forums including presentations, meetings, the San Francisco Estuary Partnership website, and State of the Estuary Conferences in 2013 and 2015.

Past Blueprints

1993 Estuary Blueprint – CCMP (Full PDF)

2007 Estuary Blueprint – CCMP (Full PDF)

2016 Estuary Blueprint – CCMP (Executive Summary, Full PDF)

2016 v. 2022 Comparison

The table below shows an overview of changes between the 2016 and 2022 Estuary Blueprints.

2016 Estuary Blueprint

2022 Estuary Blueprint Update


1. Sustain and improve the Estuary's habitats and living resources

No change

2. Bolster the resilience of Estuary ecosystems, shorelines, and communities to
climate change

No change

3. Improve water quality and increase the quantity of fresh water available to the Estuary

No change

4. Champion the Estuary

No change


a. Protect, restore, and enhance ecological conditions and processes that
support self‐sustaining natural communities

No change

b. Eliminate or reduce threats to natural communities

No change

c. Conduct scientific research and monitoring to measure the status of natural
communities, develop and refine management actions, and track progress toward management targets

No change

d. Increase resilience of tidal habitats and tributaries to climate change

No change

e. Increase resilience of communities at risk form climate change impacts while
promoting and protecting natural resources

No change

f. Promote integrated, coordinated, multi‐benefit approaches to increasing resilience

No change

g. Increase drought resistance and water efficiency and reduce reliance on
imported water

No change

h. Improve freshwater flow patterns, quantity, and timing to better support
natural resources

No change

i. Reduce contaminants entering the system and improve water quality

No change

j. Build public support for the protection and restoration of the Estuary

No change

k. Strengthen regional leadership in support of Estuary health

No change

l. Promote efficient and coordinated regional governance

No change

m. Incorporate the best available social science and cultural knowledge when protecting and improving the Estuary


n. Engage frontline, underserved, and Indigenous communities as partners in
protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Estuary



1. Watershed‐based approach

Discontinued and integrated into Action 12

2. Wetland regional monitoring program


3. Tidal marsh and tidal flats

Updated and narrowed to tidal marsh only

4. Transition zones


5. Intertidal and subtidal habitats

Updated and expanded to include tidal flats

6. Managed ponds


7. Creeks


8. Seasonal wetlands


9. Invasive species


10. Terrestrial predators

Discontinued and integrated into Action 6

11. Carbon sequestration


12. Watershed connections

Discontinued and integrated into Action 6

13. Sediment


14. Nature‐based shorelines
15. Natural resources and resilience
16. Natural resources and hazard response
17. Regulatory permitting

Actions 14, 15, 16, and 17 re‐oriented and consolidated into 3 Actions focused on climate resilience and nature‐ based solutions

18. Freshwater flows


19. Long‐term drought planning

Discontinued and integrated into Actions 20/21

20. Agricultural water use efficiency

Updated and combined with Action 21

21. Landscaping water use efficiency

Updated and combined with Action 20

22. Recycled water


23. Plan Bay Area – water integration

Integrated into climate resilience Actions

24. Stormwater management


25. Emerging contaminants


26. Raw sewage discharges

Discontinued and integrated into Action 30

27. TMDLs

Re‐oriented to contaminants related to fish

28. Nutrients


29. Ocean acidification


30. Trash


31. Public access and resource protection


32. Champion the Estuary Blueprint

Updated and re‐oriented to Champion the Estuary