2022 was a historic year for Orinda and for Friends of Orinda Creeks (FOC). With the completion of Orinda’s first creek restoration project, we achieved the first significant improvement to the Village section of San Pablo Creek since it was channelized in 1957. This milestone is thanks to support from our members, including major donations from Chevron, the Pease Family Fund, Lamorinda Sunrise Rotary, the Gateway Settlement Fund and Orinda Parks and Recreation, together with grant money from the State of California procured for the City of Orinda by Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan. FOC, working with engineering firm FlowWest, designed this first-phase restoration project, secured all the required permits, and brought it to completion. We hope to celebrate this achievement this spring with an event for our supporters along the banks of the newly restored section of San Pablo Creek.
The success of the project (it weathered the bruising storms of December 2022/ January 2023!) inspired the City of Orinda to incorporate both the Phase I project and our broader creek restoration vision into the Downtown Precise Plan, a guidance document for future development in the Village. These recent developments earned broad coverage in the Lamorinda Weekly.
With the completion of Phase I we have moved on to planning Phases II and III. We urge you to take a minute to view the SP Creek Restoration website to get a more detailed understanding of the history of this portion of the creek and the project evolution. In addition to the Phase I Restoration Project, we continued our ongoing creek activities in 2022 as detailed below.
- Creek Cleanups: For over 25 years FOC has been leading the charge to cleanup our creeks. We organize two cleanup events a year - one in the Spring (Earth Day) and one in the Fall (Coastal Cleanup Day). Literally tons of litter and debris have been picked up by various group, student, and individual volunteers. This year was no different. Please refer to "Events" in this website's menu to read more about 2022 cleanup days and upcoming 2023 cleanup days.
- Keeping SP Dam 201 free flowing: Once again, we worked closely with EBMUD on clearing debris blocking the dam located just upstream from the Bear Creek Road bridge over San Pablo Creek (near the Wagner Ranch Nature Area). A clear passageway at the base of the dam allows fish and other aquatic life easy upstream/downstream passage. Just this month a family of river otters was spotted cavorting in the creek just below the dam.
- Fourth of July Parade: FOC was again proud to participate in Orinda's famous Fourth of July parade, helping to bring awareness of our watershed creeks and the importance of keeping them healthy and clean.
- Installed Creek Monitoring Equipment: OIS student and future Eagle Scout Aimee Steinmeier worked with FOC Board members to install a streamflow gauge in Orinda Village, another first! The team installed staff gauges and a stilling well that houses a water depth and temperature data logger. The data logger stores readings every 15 minutes and will allow FOC to calculate flows over time. When storms occur, San Pablo Creek rises as the watershed around Orinda produces runoff. By combining this information with precipitation, we will begin to be able to predict how much the stream will rise in response to forecasted rain. The datalogger also records water temperature, an important factor for knowing if trout can prosper in San Pablo Creek. FOC also continued to partner with The Watershed Forum to install water quality monitoring devices elsewhere in the watershed to establish habitat suitability for aquatic life.
- Helped secure State Funds for Downtown San Pablo creek - $125,000: A check for $125,000 was presented to the City of Orinda to aid in the restoration of Downtown San Pablo creek, including design for a trail immediately adjacent to the creek. FOC initially requested these funds and worked with the City and Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan on the grant proposal. A symbolic oversized check was presented to the City and FOC in November.
Your tax deductible donations are essential to helping us further these projects as well as continue our community outreach and education. Members are invited to our semi-annual creek cleanup days and are encouraged to regularly visit this website to keep informed as to our activities and projects.