Watershed Connections Restored through Multi-Benefit Projects

The 32 actions in the 2016 Estuary Blueprint range from quite realistic to quite ambitious, as was intended. This streamlined version of the CCMP was meant to balance the tension between aspiration and feasibility. Action 12 may have been one of the more aspirational actions, but with the completion of Task 12.4, this action is now complete!

Task 12.1
Develop and disseminate data, information, and tools to assist with site selection and design of multi-benefit projects.
Milestone: Disseminate data and tools through a website. 100% complete.

A Water Quality Improvement Fund grant from EPA funded a partnership between SFEP and SFEI to use three sites around the San Francisco Bay as case studies for a new approach to creek mouths at their entry to the Bay. A vision of multi-benefit flood risk  management and  habitat restoration and improvement emerged from this partnership, resulting in Flood Control 2.0. The success of this task was celebrated in 2017 in https://www.sfestuary.org/success-story-a-new-vision-for-flood-control-page/

map of San Pablo Bay shoreline


Task 12.2 
Advance a multi-benefit project in the Yolo Bypass by establishing a common vision for improvements supported by local, state, and federal agencies.
Milestone: Initiate construction of multiple fish passage improvement projects within the Yolo Bypass. 100% complete.

Balancing out Flood Control 2.0’s progress in the Bay, two fish passage projects in the Delta were completed, providing access to miles of floodplain habitat for migrating salmon. These projects were covered in the Estuary Blueprint newsletter in August 2018 and can be found at https://www.sfestuary.org/fish-get-a-boost-in-yolo-bypass/.

Task 12.3
Use the tools developed in Task 12-1, as well as findings from other research and projects (including the Yolo Bypass project) to identify and select sites for multi-benefit projects. In partnership with property owners and public entities, assess existing conditions in the context of historic and projected conditions (including sea level rise) to develop appropriate project scopes and conceptual restoration designs for selected sites.
Milestone: Develop project scopes and conceptual restoration designs for four sites. 100% complete.

As a result of the foundations laid in Flood Control 2.0, three multi-benefit projects around the Bay were developed into funded projects with concept-level (or further) designs: 1) Lower Walnut Creek Restoration Project, 2) San Francisquito Creek Flood Damage Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration Capital Improvement Project, and 3) Novato Creek Flood Protection and Habitat Enhancement Project. A fourth project through the Healthy Watersheds, Resilient Baylands program completed a vision and project scope for the realignment of Calabazas and San Tomas Aquino creeks adjacent to the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project.

Two maps comparing historic wetlands extent with 2011 extent for Novato Baylands

Task 12.4
Secure funding in conjunction with partners to complete designs and construction documents. Obtain necessary permits and approvals for selected sites.
Milestone: Initiate implementation phase of two projects. 100% complete.

With the announcement of funding for the Novato Creek Flood Protection and Ecosystem Restoration Capital Improvement Project through the Coastal Conservancy and the Bay Area Integrated Regional Water Management Program (IRWM), this final milestone is now complete. 

In May, the Coastal Conservancy allocated $1.4 million to restore 177 acres of wetland habitat between Hamilton Wetlands and Bel Marin Keys near the mouth of Novato Creek. The North Bay project will create approximately 60 acres of tidal wetlands, 60 acres of managed wetlands, and 57 acres of seasonal wetlands and will enhance an additional 145 acres of adjacent upland habitat. The project will also provide opportunities for practical workforce development and will cultivate a substantial volunteer base.

In the South Bay, the San Francisquito Creek project finished construction in November 2018. The project provides increased creek flow capacity between the creek’s mouth at San Francisco Bay and the Highway 101 overpass, reduced flood risks, sea level rise adaptation, and improved habitat including the reconnection of a marsh plain between the creek and the Palo Alto Baylands. 

For a flyover of the San Francisquito Creek project from the Bay to the Highway 101 overpass, see this video produced by the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority at