Thinking about water management on the watershed scale is increasing populary. Really, how else would we think about water management? We are finally remembering to mimcik natural hydrology as much as possible to forster our most beneficial interaction with our ecosystems.Rather than fighting the flow, we are slowly returning to going with it.
Humans are an embedded element of watershed ecosystems, and in the modern, urban world, we often have to consider more than one watershed ecosystem in our daily lives. That's because the inhabitants of most urban areas of California don't get their water from their immediate watershed. For instance, San Diego primarily gets it's water from the Colorado River Watershed(s), the City of Los Angeles gets a good deal of its water from the SF Bay Delta Watershed, in turn, San Franciso from the Tuolumne River Watershed, and the East Bay from the Mokelumne River watershed. Our daily actions impact these watershed ecosystems very directly.
But, we also live and work in watersheds. Personally, I use water from the Mokelumne River from my tap at home and at work in Oakland. Tap water is energy-intensive potable water delivered from and returned to EBMUD for treatment, in my case.
So, that's one watershed. I live in the Derby Creek watershed and work in the San Antonio Creek watershed. So, now I am up to three watersheds. How I use tap water impacts the Mokelumne River watershed, and the Derby and San Antonio Creek watersheds. Given that I live right over Derby Creek, my impacts at home are direct, as are my own potential benefits.
If I let my irrigation run over the sidewalk and down the street, I am inappropriately wasting Mokelumne River water. But, I am also adding it, as polluted stormwater, to the Derby Creek watershed and the San Francisco Bay estuary. Do I capture rainwater and reuse graywater? Those practices decrease the amount of Mokelumne River water I use unnecessarily, given my "local" water supply of rain and gray water. But Localized water reuse practices also benefit the Derby Creek watershed by adding highquality rainwater to the groundwater as it seeps through my irrigation system into the ground.
The same is true of graywater, which is of a different quality, but beneficial for plants and then filtered by their roots and the soil as it makes it's way down to the groundwater supply, bit by bit.
And, of course, the SF Bay Delta is just blocks away. Any stormwater I produce, any trash I throw on the street, and chemicals that I add from my house or car to the street - these all impact the Delta Watershed. So now I have four watersheds in my daily life.
The point is that we have the opportunity to consider the impacts of our behavior on numerous watersheds, and get into the groove of both conserving and reusing water as much as possible. Two upcoming events will give participatants a much greater insight into watersheds, their beauty, their ecology, their current pressures, and our management practices.
The good news is that my same good practices impact all watershed as do any of my irresponsible actions. The main consideration in identifying all the watersheds in my life is not having to juggle my behavior, but in learning about each watershed, and developing a personal relationship with each one. Yup, I am dating my watersheds!
And finally, while we are not promoting a specific product, it's great to see that even phone apps are getting into watersheds. Here's one that will tune you into the watershed you are in at any given time, and even allow you to contribute easily to it's stewardship. Cool!
Creek Watch is an iPhone application that enables you to help monitor the health of your local watershed. Whenever you pass by a waterway, spend a few seconds using the Creek Watch application to snap a picture and report how much water and trash you see. We aggregate the data and share it with water control boards to help them track pollution and manage water resources. Created by IBM Research in partnership with the SWRCB’s Clean Water Team with whom the initial concept was developed, the Creek Watch iPhone app has over 4,000 users in 25 countries. The updated version of the app allows you to share your Creek Watch data with your Facebook and Twitter networks. Download it for free and try it out today - you're just a few steps away from personally contributing to the protection of creeks and streams in your neighborhood. (Supported Languages: English, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Spanish)
The Creek Watch App uses four pieces of data:
CA Statewide Watersheds:http://www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov/features/calwater/calwatershedsmap.html
Entire and Individual SFBay Area: http://museumca.org/creeks/MapOak.html
Sacramento River: http://mappery.com/Sacramento-River-Watershed-Map
CA Watershed Portal: http://cwp.resources.ca.gov/calw_browse.php#
Listen to the podcast of Elizabeth Dougherty, director of Wholly H2O, talking about one of her favorite subjects on KPFA radio - creating a second use for graywater in the garden. This is a information-packed half an hour show, with Laura Allen of Graywater Action and Tony Poeck of Indra Designs as co-panelists, discussing the legal, safe use of graywater in California.
Here we are in California, a state where we have lived in drought conditions 35 out of the last 100 years (that’s 35%) of the time. And yet, we are not in the habit of managing our water sources and water use for drought conditions as a norm. A good starting point is knowing your water source(s), so you can make the best personal choices to conserve the source. In fact, it's useful to remember that you are a part of your water sources' ecosystem. Your choices regarding use and reuse have a direct impact on it's vitality. If you are an East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) customer, your water source is the Mokelumne River and it’s ecosystem.
Free Cisterns Available Through the Oakland Rain Barrel Program
Wholly H2O is teamed up with the Oakland Rain Barrel Program to get the word out about the high-quality FREE WATERWATER HARVESTING CISTERNS made by Bushman Tanks, up to 640 gallons available FOR FREE.
That’s why Wholly H2O took to the streets during this past Friday’s Oakland Art Murmur. Mani Niall of Sweet Bar Bakery shared his sidewalk at 24th and Broadway with with our large rain cisterns offered by City of Oakland FOR FREE until December 2012. We gave away Mokelumne River water (aka, Oakland tap water) to thirsty Murmurittes. People were initially perplexed. Not a single person (well, ok, the was one...) knew what or where the Mokelumne River is. (By the way, for those who asked, the Mokelumne River is not part of the Hetch Hetchy system whioch brings Tuolumne River water to San Francisco). Most had never stopped to consider what source EBMUD tapped to deliver clean and yummy water to its customers.
Wow, what great fun! As soon as we got a few tanks on the sidewalk we were immediately swarmed with Oaklanders wanting to know how they could get a FREE CISTERN, or two, or three. People hugged us, high-fived us, got tears in their eyes when we connected their drink of Mokelumne River with what they could do to help be responsible participants of the Mokelumne River ecosystem as well as the ecosystem here in Oakland where they are using that water. We never even got take a drink of water ourselves. Old, young, black, white, Asian, gay, straight – there was no barrier to loving the idea of getting FREE CISTERNS from this program and setting them up at home or their business. One man even called the landlord of his apartment complex on the spot to get the ball rolling!
That’s what we’re hoping every resident and business owner will do. Even if you can’t get an entire rainwater harvesting system set up before the rains start this year, get your barrels now and set them up for 2013. The point is that rainwater harvesting is a very useful, localized form of water management, even if the only thing you do is store it for earth quake back up water. Keep in mind that along with the Hayward Fault, there are several other fault lines in the area of our water supply pathway. Get high quality tanks for free now and set them up as you can.
How Much Water Can I Capture?
Even if you have just 1000 square feet of catchment area (aka, roof), and there is 1” of rain, you can capture 600 gallons of water. Yup, I am not kidding, 600 gallons. Since it rains an average of 22” in Oakland, you have the potential of harvesting 13,200 gallons of water. Use our water capture potential tool to estimate your specific potential. (Scroll down, it's in the right hand column).
Now you can see why we encourage people to “invest” in larger cisterns as opposed to a 65 gallon rain barrel. If you are going to set up your downspouts to capture rain, DO IT UP! Go for the biggest cistern you can fit. Fortunately, the program is offering a variety of Bushman tanks, even slimlines, for free. You can get up to 640 gallons of cistern storage. For schools and other institutions and businesses, there may be a possibility for obtaining larger amounts of storage. Contact the Oakland Rain Barrel Program to inquire.
Mokelumne River Watershed
We want people in Oakland to be knowledgeable and emotionally connected to their water source. That way, when you turn on the tap, you can say to yourself, “Hey, this water is from the Mokelumne River, coming to me from over 90 miles away – what’s my best way to use this water respectifully?” In fact, I like to think, “What is my best form of being a fellow-feature of the Mokelumne River Watershed?” Whatever you do here in Oakland is going to have an direct impact on what happens way over where the Mokelumne River water is facing declining salmon runs.
Mokelumne River Watershed, 90 miles from Oakland
The Mokelumne River is a part of the San Joaquin River Basin. EBMUD has a created a masterplan for the Mokelumne River Watershed. “The Mokelumne Watershed Land Use Master Plan establishes District policy and provides long-term management direction on land use, recreation, and resource management for District–owned lands within the Mokelumne Watershed, with the goal of protecting water quality and ecologic health in a financially sustainable manner.”
EBMUD will be hosting a Mokelumne River Clean-up this Saturday as part of the California Coastal Clean up Day. This is a GREAT opportunity for those of us getting our water from the Mokelumne River through EBMUD water services to get to know our rover source. Will you be there?Why Rainwater Harvesting is a Form of Water Source Stewardship
One very direct way to be responsible for your own water source and use the least amount possible is through localized rainwater harvesting right where you are. Rainwater harvesting is nothing new. Of course, this is exactly how humans have been actively gathering water for thousands of years. Rainwater harvesting helps us reduce our potable water demands from rivers, ground water, and reservoirs. You can use rainwater to water your garden, and if the building is dual-plumbed, to flush your toilets. Rainwater harvesting also reduces stormwater runoff. For what is stormwater runoff other than rain that is not captured for use where it is falling, and instead is left to run helter skelter down driveways, sidewalks and streets, picking up pollutants to dump untreated into local streams, bays and oceans?
Rainwater Harvesting Class
October Art Murmur
We’ll be at the October 5th Art Murmur once again, giving away Mokelumne River on Tap and showing you examples of rainwater harvesting cisterns available for FREE to Oakland residents, institutions and businesses through the City of Oakland. Look for us at the SW corner of 24th and Broadway, next to the best cupcakes in town.
Where is the water running through your own watershed? For many of us living in urban areas of California, that question is not only hard to answer, but not even a question that ever crosses our minds. In many urban zones, the local potable water supply (used for both potable and nonpotable uses) are not coming from the local watershed. Even if individuals know what their actual water source is, which is still rare, they know very little about their own watersheds. Without awareness, it's much more difficult to tie our own behavior to the health of our watersheds, even for the ecosystem-minded.
The largest impact is on the stormwater front, as we urbanites allow vast amounts of rainwater falling on our residential or commercial properties to run off the property without being captured for use or infioltrated, leading to our #1 water quality issue in the U.S. - stormwater polluting our local waterways.
While daylighting an entire stream can be a huge legal project with like large costs to it for a city or community group, showing a small section of that stream is very eye-opening. Traveling recently through the town of Dunsmuir in Northern CA, I stopped at Dogwood Diner and was struck by the loud sound of running water inside the building. My conservationist bones were rattled and I went in search of the source of the sound, expecting to see the restaurant dumping used water at a high rate. Instead, I found the sound coming from a stream daylighted in several places in the floor of their building of their adjascent clothing store.
On closer look, not only had they opened up the floor of the building to show the stream running through its rocky streambed below, but they took the opportunity to really daylight the stream by adding lights below for a cleaer view of the flowing water.
The wonderful woman working in the store explained to me that the owner had really wanted to encourage store visitors to become more aware of how water is moving through Dunsmuir and added this educational information. She also pointed out several small holes in the floor which cools the store in the summer, like a swamp cooler. In the winter they just plug the holes up to maintain warmth.
The also removed the old toilet, which used to dump directly into the stream, now using the space for storage and a backdrop for the bands that play there periodically!
This is a great design idea for restaurants, bars, even a home. Find out if you are over a stream and what it would take to point that out by exposing it on the building interior as a beautiful design addition.
If you'd likle to learn more about your own watershed by seeing a watershed map, first you can try a google search for your county's name and "watershed map". If nothing appears, try looking on your water provider's web page to see if they have local watershed information.
My own water provider, East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD), which draws it's water from the Mokelumne River, does not provide maps of our watershed, but the Oakland Museum does! In fact, they provide beautifully clear and detailed watershed maps for all watershed in Oakland, San Francisco, Richmond, Berkeley, Daly City, Hayward, San Leandro, San Mateo, Dublin, Pleasanton, Freemont, Baylands, South San Francisco, Palo Alto, Milpitas, North and South San Jose, San Jose, West Santa Clara, Morgan Hill and Gilroy. It's easy to see where the creeks are daylighted (above ground) and where they are culverted through a piping system (underground).
Another source for very general maps is the US EPA, which has a watershed mapping tool, that provides just the general outlines of the watershed on a larger area map.
Looking at my own watershed map a few years back informed me as to why a small piece of curly willow that came in a flower arrangement which I planted in my backyard only 4 years ago has turned into a 40' tree with nearly no watering. Derby Creek runs right under my house, and while it may be in a culvert, some of that water from my the Derby Creek watershed is influencing what I can grow. Good to know!
The North Bay Watershed Association is a group of 16 regional and local public agencies located throughout Marin, Sonoma, and Napa Counties. The NBWA has been created to bring together regulated public agencies within the North Bay Watershed to discuss and approach issues of common interest that cross political boundaries and to promote stewardship of the North Bay watershed resources. NBWA Board of Directors’ Meetings are held once a month, usually on the first Friday of the month (see Meeting Information page). All meetings are open to the public.Location : Novato Sanitary District, 500 Davidson Street, Novato, CA
Every dollar really does make a difference
Californians use copious amounts of highly treated potable water on thier landscape. Water used for irrigation is over half of the California residential water use every day. Studies on residential water use figures continue to propose a wide range, from 108 to 173 gallons per day. Given the spread, we can use the average of 141 gallons per capita per day (PCPD), giving us a 70+ gallon PCPD use of potable water on landscaping. Did you notice that word "potable"? That means the water you are using has been pumped from groundwater and or transported to a treatment facility where it is treated to the highest standards for potable water using a good deal of fossil-fuel based energy. Truthfully, it just doesn't make sense to be using potable water on landscaping in a state that is in such a critical condition in terms of water supply. That is twice as true for those living in the naturally hot and dry climate of Southern California who are using water imported from up to 1800 miles away (source of Colorado River to San Diego).
The City of Palo Alto just released this video (including a photo of my own abundant front yard garden which I water once a month during dry weather) featuring Palo Alto's utility rep, Catherine Elvert, who has been deeply involved in water reductions in the City of Palo Alto, as well as making efforts to educate water users all over California about how to reduce water use in landscaping. While still a bit baroque about graywater use standards, Palo Alto is offering a modest rainwater harvesting rebate and is making truly great strides with water conservation. See their new video below.
According to the CA Department of Water Resources (DWR), "Landscape design, installation, and maintenance can and should be water efficient" (Excerpts from: Title 7, Div. 1, Ch. 3, Article 10.8 (d) and (e) of the Government Code)
The California State Legislature recognizes the importance of landscaping for recreation, fire protection, erosion control, enhancing environmental conditions and replacing ecosystems in areas of development. However, California faces a real challenge to meet the water needs of a growing population with a limited supply of water. To meet this challenge, water use in landscapes must become more efficient. There are many ways to accomplish this goal and even modest improvements can have a cumulative effect in saving a great deal of water. makes the following suggestions for implementing water-efficient landscaping:
When it comes to truly water-efficient landscape ordinances in water-poor areas, I often turn to the example of Tucson Arizona. Four years ago in 2008, Tucson became the first municipality in the country to require developers harvest rainwater for landscaping. The new water-saving measure, approved by a unanimous vote by the City Council, mandates that new developments meet 50% of their landscaping water requirements by capturing rainwater. The new rule goes into effect June 1, 2010. Not only should we replace lawns with water efficient landscaping in order to help meet the state's goal of a 20% redeuction in water use by 2020, but we should consider incorprating local sources of water such as rainwater and graywater, which can be harvested and (re)used on site in landscaping, further contributing to water reductions and a more biodiversity-rich form of landscaping to support our local ecosystems, which in the end, is the way to support our own vibrant lives. In general, rainwater and graywater are both more beneficial for plants than treated potable water.
Every dollar really does make a difference
What do you know about your own watershed?
Do you know the name of the closest creek to you, whether above ground (daylighted) or running through an piped infrastructure system? Too often, we are unnaturally disconnected not only from our water sourece. OK, that's a bit understandable, as in California, water can travel up to 1800 miles to reach your tap, such as is the case with San Diego's Colorado River supply. But every one of us is living in a watershed and working in a watershed, perhaps not even the same one. Basically, wherever you are on land, you are standing in a watershed. And what happens in your watershed impacts the local groundwater, the local surface (piped and piped) and ultimately both water supplies and water quality. Take a look at this watershed diagram to see where you might be in your watersehd as you read this post - Where the precipitation falls? Nearby a stream that feeds a more central river? By the shoreline where some stormwater may be passing into the ocean? In the middle of an urban block underwhich a stream is passing by inside of an infrastructure pipe?
If you don't know what watershed you live or work in, there are a number of ways to figure out that out. One is by visiting the US EPA's watersehd mapping tool that will locate you in your watershed. Another way is to locate a watersehd group working in your county that can help you determine your own watershed. They will likely have information and activities related to your watersehd and what is being done to maintain and improve it's condition. Also, it's worth checking out The Water Education Foundation's full-color slideshow detailing California's watersheds.
Those living in San Francisco or the East Bay of the Bay Area are fortunate to have excellent watersehd maps provided through the Oakland museum. Through these maps I learned that I live smack over Derby Creek in Oakland. While the map shows me that Derby Creek is piped in my area, some of Derby Creek still seeps through the ground. Hence the small curly willow cutting from a flower bouquet that I planted 5 years ago turning into a 35 foot tree without any regular watering! My location in my watersehd impacts what I can grow and how much I have to water what I can grow, both important bits of information for a water conservation maniac such as myself.
The State Water Resources Control Board has launched a survey about your knowledge of your watershed that is part of the release of their new phone app for learning more about your own watershed. It also allows you to particpate in information documentation about your wastershed.
Creekwatch wants to hear from you! By completing this survey you are supporting research on water management and conservation programs - thanks for taking 5 minutes to answer some questions. At the end of the survey, you'll be asked to enter a drawing for $10 Amazon.com gift certificates, as a thank you for your time.
Help the environment by participating in this water conservation research survey and earn the chance to win $10 at Amazon.com
This data helps watershed groups, agencies and scientists track pollution, manage water resources, and plan environmental programs.
Creek Watch is a project developed at IBM Research - Almaden in consultation with the California State Water Resources Control Board's Clean Water Team.
Get to know your watershed!
Every dollar really does make a difference
The San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary is one of the largest estuaries on the West Coast of North and South America. It encompasses roughly 1,600 square miles, and drains 40% of the state's water. This means that 40% of all water that falls onto the state through snow and rain come through the Bay Delta, thereby signaling its importance in terms of both water supply and water quality. Somewhere between 22 and 23 million people in the state of California are using potable water that origniated in the Delta, many of these in Southern California. The Delta is also the source for irrigation of 4.5 million acres of farmland, as well as being used for shipping, industry, recreation and tourism. Therefore the health of the Bay Delta's ecosystem is of utmost importance, first and foremost for the ecosystem itself, as well as for the humans uses. Just this weekend, the Sacramento Bee made the astute point that exporters "can't keep drawing ever more water out of an estuary in collapse and claiming that flows don't matter much for the life cycle of fish. The National Research Council, among other scientific bodies, has made clear that minimum flows are essential for fish recovery, especially during dry years.”
The USGS has reported that (m)ore than 95% of the historic tidal marshes have been leveed and filled, with attendant losses in fish and wildlife habitat. The flow of freshwater into the estuary has been greatly reduced by water diversions largely to support irrigated agriculture. Included with this information are two maps that clearly lay out the loss of this habitat.
(Images Source: http://sfbay.wr.usgs.gov/general_factsheets/change.html)
The call for papers for the 2012 Bay-Delta Science Conference: Ecosystem Reconciliation: Realities Facing the San Francisco Estuary is an excellent opportunity for scientists to publicly lay out the science that should drive the state in meeting the Bay Delta Conservation Plan's co-equal goals of providing for the conservation and management of aquatic and terrestrial species, including the restoration and enhancement of ecological functions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, and improving current water supplies and the reliability of water supply delivery conveyed through the State Water Project (SWP) and the Central Valley Project (CVP).
You might start your venture into writing an abstract by reading through the UC Davis' Center for Watershed Science, Manageing California's Water: From Conflict to Resolution.
2012 Bay-Delta Science Conference: Ecosystem Reconciliation: Realities Facing the San Francisco Estuary
CALL FOR ABSTRACTS - DUE JUNE 8, 2012
October 16-18, 2012
Sacramento Convention Center
The Biennial Bay-Delta Science Conference is a forum for presenting technical analyses and results relevant to the Delta Science Program's mission to provide the best possible, unbiased, science-based information for water and environmental decision-making in the Bay-Delta system. The goal of the conference is to provide new information and syntheses to the broad community of scientists, engineers, resource managers, and stakeholders working on Bay-Delta issues. The organizers of this 7th Science Conference are seeking presentations that support this goal.
The conference program will feature both oral and poster presentations that provide scientific information and ideas relevant to the specific themes as well as to the broader overall conference theme "Ecosystem Reconciliation: Realities Facing the San Francisco Estuary." The theme refers to the growing realization that the ecosystem of the San Francisco Estuary is vastly changed and is continuing to change as the result of human actions. For it to function in desirable ways, we have to reconcile human use with maintaining desirable natural elements such as native species. And because the new ecosystem is increasingly unlike any previously experienced, we need to develop new ways of reconciling these potentially conflicting goals.
In addition to contributed sessions and poster topics based on the abstracts received, conference participants may propose special oral sessions or poster clusters on topics of particular importance to the Bay-Delta. Instructions for proposing a special session or poster cluster appear in the call for abstracts and on the conference web site. All abstracts must be submitted by June 8, 2012.
Nominations for the Brown-Nichols Science Award are due August 10, 2012. This award is given biennially to recognize the contributions of scientists for their significant research and active involvement in facilitating the use of science in managing the San Francisco Estuary and watershed.
Please visit the conference website for more information:
PDF Flyer: http://scienceconf.deltacouncil.ca.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Call4AbsWEBVIEW3.pdf
Call for Abstracts Page: http://scienceconf.deltacouncil.ca.gov/content/2012-bay-delta-science-conference-call-abstracts
Brown-Nichols Science Award http://scienceconf.deltacouncil.ca.gov/content/brown-nichols-science-award
Conference Home Page: http://scienceconf.deltacouncil.ca.gov/
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions the conference.
2012 Bay Delta Science Conference, Logistics Chair
San Francisco Estuary Partnership
1515 Clay Street, Suite 1400
Oakland, CA 94612