Green Diet for Roads
of San Pablo project manager Amanda Booth went deep into the nitty gritty on
green stormwater infrastructure at a State of the Estuary Conference session.
“Talk to the utility agencies before you even start,” she said. “Read
PG&E’s Greenbook guidelines. Know your city’s franchise agreements with
gas, electrical, sewer, and water companies, figure out who pays to relocate
facilities, for example, if that becomes necessary.”
the flow lines of runoff at the street, parcel and regional scale is what
stormwater management via green infrastructure is all about. “Regional projects
that treat regional drainage are the hardest to site,” said EOA Inc’s Chris
Sommer during the session. “To build large stormwater retention projects at a
watershed scale you need to use schools, parks, and other larger properties.”
Terry Fashing reviewed Oakland’s progress on green infrastructure planning.
“We’re a city that cares very deeply about our creeks and waterways, and we’re
working hard to shift from gray to green across the city,” she said.
also described the pains Oakland has been going to ensure quality work. The
regional water board’s Keith Lichten echoed these sentiments in an earlier
plenary. “Make sure the contractor knows what you’re trying to do, they often
don’t understand all aims of GI projects. There’s a lot of badly built projects
out there,” he said.
Some major transportation upgrades, like the Highway 37 work highlighted by MTC engineer Kevin Chin in another plenary speech, are starting to consider not just environmental impacts and stormwater management, as usual, but also sea level rise and habitat connectivity.
“When you start hearing transportation engineers talk about resilience, then we’re getting somewhere,” summed up the regional water board’s Tom Mumley.
Ingredients in our Effluent
of emerging concern, including pharmaceuticals, microplastics, and flame
retardants, have little in common beyond the fact that they are not regulated
or widely monitored in surface waters. However, they have the potential to harm
wildlife or humans, explained Melissa Foley of the San Francisco Bay Regional
Monitoring Program during a presentation at the State of the Estuary
still a really new concept for people, but we have to rethink our whole water
system,” said Kelly Moran, president of San Mateo firm TDC Environmental, in a
follow up interview to the conference. “The governor issued an executive order
early in his term that basically was challenging us to find new water supplies
and take care of all the different waters.”
Foley and others who spoke at the session emphasized source control. It’s “an important strategy for reducing the number of contaminants that make it to wastewater facilities in the first place,” she said.
SFEI scientist Diana Lin presented her comprehensive and groundbreaking new study of tiny plastic fragments in the Bay. “Microplastics are the detritus of modern-day society, where more than 350 million tons of plastics are produced annually.”
the western Suisun Marsh, you aren’t supposed to see black water, or
wastewater. And yet, black water is what you can sometimes see emanating from
the managed wetlands of duck clubs in the Marsh, said Stuart Siegel, a wetland
ecologist and San Francisco State University professor, who spoke on a
that best management practices [to address discharge impacts] have been
developed and tested, we can use the practices marsh-wide, working with private
landowners on a voluntary basis,” said Steve Chappell, director of the Suisun
Resource Conservation District.
Participants on the public and working landscapes panel included staff from other resource conservation districts. Lucas Patzek gave an overview of LandSmart, a program that helps vineyards and other land managers reduce sediment and meet other resource conservation goals.
Alyson Aquino discussed cattle pond improvements in Alameda County. Wendy Rush from Solano County demonstrated through photos the difference between a sterile working waterway and one that is vegetated with native plants and fenced off from cattle.
Future in Nutrient Rush
managers hope smelt may be revived by the removal of ammonium and other
nutrients in Delta waterways. Exactly how these improvements may help declining
native pelagic fish in the Delta was the focus of Tamara Kraus’ State of the
Estuary conference presentation. “Instead of discharging ammonium, they’ll be
discharging nitrate–a significant change on top of the overall reductions,”
said the U.S. Geological Survey scientist
issues farther downstream were the focus of two other major presentations in
the session. The San Francisco Estuary Institute’s David Senn presented data
indicating a 30% increase in dissolved inorganic nitrogen loads from the Bay
Area’s five largest plants between 2000 and 2017.
Kennedy of HDR worked on a study of 37 wastewater treatment plants around the
Bay. “For each plant we identified equipment or basins that could be
repurposed, as well as one to three emerging treatment technologies that might
help if new regulations on nutrient discharges go into effect.”
Francisco BayKeeper’s Ian Wren detailed alternative approaches to removing
nutrients from wastewater. “The East Bay shore offers the best opportunities
for progress on this front, with its mix of potentially high nutrient loads and
flood risk, and lands suitable for nature-based solutions,” said Wren.
Nutrient Reduction Strategy Report 2018, BACWA
San Francisco Bay Nutrient Management Strategy
City of San Jose Green Stormwater Infrastructure Plan
Oakland Green Instrastructure Resources
Related Prior ESTUARY Stories
Rainbow Flavors of Blue-Green Infrastructure, Special Issue June 2019
Federal Research Crew Bucks Headwinds & Tracks Nutrients, March 2019
Nudging Natural Magic, Oro Loma Nutrient Removal, December 2017
Nutrient Nuances Modeled, September 2017
Bay Not BPA-Free, September 2019
Next Day Delivery: PCBs, Mercury, Plastics all in One Pacakge, June 2019
Medicating the Bay, Dec 2018
LA Drainage Goes Native, ESTUARY June 2017
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Top Map: Green infrastructure in San Jose as of 2018. Source: EOA/City of San Jose