The Work We Do
Environmental Restoration Projects
Alameda Creek Fish Ladder
Ever since steelhead trout were first spotted in Alameda Creek nearly two decades ago, the District has been collaborating with agencies and organizations to enable fish to swim upstream and downstream to spawn and propagate. Typically, steelhead trout are born in freshwater areas then migrate to the Pacific Ocean to live as adults before eventually returning to their home stream to spawn.
As a first step, the regional Public Utilities Commission and the District collaborated to release more water upstream to ensure the fish can swim year-round. Additionally, the District designed two fish ladders: one where the BART tracks cross Alameda Creek and the other at the Alameda County Water District’s rubber dam.
Fish ladders are, essentially, a series of pools that each step up about one foot in elevation. Fish ladders allow the fish to get up and around a dam or other structure. With these new fish ladders, fish will be able to access the upper Alameda Creek watershed, where they can spawn.
The first of the two ladders broke ground in April 2018. Both ladders are scheduled to be completed by late 2021. The return of trout to the upper reaches of the watershed habitat will help enable this fish species to rebound locally and regionally.
Cull Creek Restoration
The District built Cull Canyon Dam and Reservoir in 1963 for recreational and flood control purposes. The reservoir quickly filled with sediment, requiring several costly sediment removal programs, one in 1974, and another in 1999 to 2000. In addition, in 2005, the District concluded that the Cull Creek Dam was not earthquake-safe.
District engineers devised an innovative restoration program that addressed seismic instability while restoring Cull Creek to its natural condition. In addition, the creek now offers new recreational opportunities. The work included lowering the existing Cull Canyon Dam spillway about ten feet, excavating sediment within the old reservoir into a more creek-like channel, and placing the excess sediment in the downstream area.
Now that the work is complete, Cull Reservoir will hold some water during heavy rainstorms. During the summer, the reservoir will revert to a meandering creek surrounded by open space and a lush meadow. Another significant benefit of the project may not be as obvious: by allowing sediment to flow naturally downstream rather than being trapped in the reservoir, the creek bed and banks downstream in San Lorenzo Creek are becoming more stable.
San Leandro Creek Trail Master Plan
The San Leandro Creek Trail Master Plan Study was completed in the summer of 2017. The District participated in a collaboration with the public and many partnering agencies, including the City of San Leandro, City of Oakland, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, East Bay Regional Park District, Merritt College, National Park Service, Friends of San Leandro Creek, and BART. The goals of this study were to develop a plan for creating a new trail and recreational area; to improve water quality in the creek; to provide vital habitat to wildlife; and to protect areas of historical, cultural, and ecological significance. The District is proud to be a part of this community and provide right-of-way access to make all of these goals a reality. Stay tuned for more about the implementation of this master plan!
Sabercat Creek Trail Restoration
The Sabercat Creek Trail in Fremont is a great example of the District partnering with the community and local agencies to help create and restore public trails throughout Alameda County. For Sabercat, we partnered with a coalition of city and park agencies to restore this unique two-mile trail that runs through a former archeological dig site where thousands of fossils have been collected. These fossils date back about 1.8 million years, including mammoths, saber-toothed cats, wolves, giant sloths, and bears.
Severe erosion occurred along Sabercat Creek, causing parts of the creekside trail to crumble. The District helped stabilize the creek banks, restore the trail, provide a picnic area, plant native vegetation, and install a fence to keep out cattle. Public access to this amazing community resource was also greatly improved by providing new access paths that connect the east and west trails.
Chabot Creek Restoration
This District recently restored approximately 125 feet of Chabot Creek near Lake Chabot Road in Castro Valley to improve flood protection while providing an oasis of natural creek habitat.
This project involved the removal of concrete from the bottom and northern wall to create an open section of creek, followed by stabilization of the north bank with biodegradable erosion control fabric, rock revetment, and native seed cover. The District reinforced the south bank slope and planted native vegetation including coastal live oaks, manzanita, and willows. A new paved walkway and benches decorated with children’s artwork now provide a popular public vista point to the naturalized creek.
Our Chabot Creek restoration is a great example of many groups working together to benefit the community. The project was funded by the District. Other contributors were Sutter Health and Eden Township Healthcare District’s (ETHD), whose new medical office building is located just north of the creek. The District also collaborated with the Alameda County Community Development Agency and the Friends of San Lorenzo Creek to make this project a success.
Scott Creek Restoration
Scott Creek forms part of the historic border between Alameda and Santa Clara Counties and acts as a flood control channel for the watershed that spans both. Erosion along the banks of Scott Creek between Green Valley Road and Scott Creek Road in Fremont blocked water flow, jeopardizing a nearby public pathway and requiring emergency repairs. Farther downstream, the storm drain system was filling up with sediment from the erosion.
The District designed the restoration of this fragile section of Scott Creek in collaboration with the Santa Clara Valley Water District. The permitting process took slightly longer than expected given the potential impact of this project on the California Red-Legged frog and California Tiger Salamander habitats. After permitting was complete, creek banks were regraded to create a wider channel. Rocks and logs were used to stabilize the creek banks, control water flow, and create natural pools that improved the aquatic habitat. Native grasses, shrubs, wildflowers, and trees were also planted to round-out this restoration project and beautify this natural resource.
Initially constructed in the 1980’s as part of a residential development, Ardenwood Creek (Line P) was designed to drain water from Fremont’s urban and suburban neighborhoods to a marsh at the foot of Coyote Hills Regional Park. Over the years, the silt and sediment built up in the channel, the banks eroded, and an aggressive crop of cattails invaded the creek, resulting in reduced flow capacity.
The project was overseen by the District and included excavating and re-contouring the earthen channel and improving the culvert crossings at Ardenwood Boulevard and Paseo Padre Parkway. Invasive species were replaced with native plants and the channel improvements created more diverse riparian and seasonal wetland habitat.