Community Successes in the San Francisco Bay Delta Watershed
EPA works with people and organizations across California to protect and preserve the San Francisco Bay Delta Watershed. Through our many grants, partnerships, technical assistance and awards programs EPA supports and encourages a variety of projects. If you would like additional information about any of the community successes listed below, please contact us.
The Bay Point Latino Environmental Action Project (LEAP) in Martinez is the recipient of a Level 1 CARE cooperative agreement. This partnership consists of Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS), the lead agency administering the cooperative agreement, the Bay Point Partnership and the University of San Francisco's Department of Environmental Health Science.
LEAP will help the predominantly low-income Latino community in Bay Point to identify local environmental hazards and mobilize the broader community to take actions to reduce these hazards. CARE funding will provide residents with more advanced training and technical assistance on toxics in their environment; expanding their research on existing environmental indicators; and gathering information about community perceptions of risk and actual risks behaviors.
EPA Earth Day Award: Environmental Justice Champion Award
Becky Quintana was born and raised by farmworker parents in the rural town of Seville in Northeastern Tulare County, California. Today, she's a school bus driver who is fighting for her community's access to water that's clean, safe, and affordable. Her efforts have pushed the development of groundwater protection requirements for irrigated agriculture, and provided resources for two pilot studies on how to address nitrate contamination in the Tulare Lake Basin.
EPA Earth Day Award
Since 2004, California Coastal Conservancy's Steve Ritchie has led the restoration planning effort for the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project. Roughly the size of Manhattan, the 15,100 acres of former commercial salt ponds in South San Francisco Bay are the largest wetland restoration effort ever undertaken in the western United States.
Earlier urbanization caused the loss of 85 to 90 percent of the tidal marsh in the San Francisco Bay, which has led to the dramatic loss of fish and wildlife, decreased water quality and increased turbidity. Ritchie has successfully represented the interests of government agencies, along with private organizations and individuals, to complete a complicated Environmental Impact Statement. Today, Ritchie's attention is focused on implementing the first phase of this vital restoration project.
Strong Cities, Strong Communities Partner
The City of Fresno was one of six cities nationwide to be selected for the Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative. As part of the effort, employees of EPA and other federal agencies will work alongside city officials to encourage economic growth and community development.
The project will help Fresno by streamlining and simplifying the city's interface with federal agencies, providing technical assistance and planning resources tailored to Fresno's needs, helping the city to use their existing federal funds more efficiently and effectively; and helping to establish local long-term partnerships to promote and sustain growth.
EPA Grant, Partnership
EPA is partnering with the City of San Jose in this $1M pilot program to reduce trash to San Francisco Bay. Despite being a beautiful waterway, Coyote Creek is trash-impaired -- meaning trash is significantly damaging the creek as a healthy habitat for fish and wildlife. The creek project area is notably polluted by homeless encampments and illegal dumping.
The four-year pilot program brings together an interdisciplinary partnership that will engage neighbors as creek stewards, employ and assist the homeless and deter dumping and litter in the watershed.
Environmental Justice (EJ) Grant
Arvin is located at the southern end of California's San Joaquin Valley, downwind of most of the Valley's air pollution sources. With possibly more ozone violations than any other city in the country (every four days), the Air District expects Arvin to be the last place in the Valley to attain the federal 8-hour ozone standard, in 2023.
In addition, Arvin hosts a Superfund site, other waste sites, has arsenic-contaminated drinking water, proximity to pesticide applications, and other environmental health risks. Through a collaboration with EPA, the Committee for a Better Arvin used a $20,000 EJ grant to increase community engagement and raise awareness about health impacts caused by these local environmental issues. By educating community residents, the Committee for a Better Arvin worked to build the community's capacity to address public health risks, and fostered a dialogue between residents and local land use decision makers to ensure the community's voices are heard.
Environmental Justice Grant
The Protecting Groundwater from the Ground Up project educates San Joaquin Valley residents to reduce and prevent drinking water contamination. The project educates people in disadvantaged rural communities about the causes and effects of drinking water pollution and empowers residents to take actions to reduce and prevent contamination of the region's drinking water sources.
The Community Water Center will provide technical and advocacy assistance to San Joaquin Valley residents facing water challenges, utilize various strategies to reach and educate residents about the pervasive lack of safe drinking water, provide water quality trainings to residents who want to become more engaged in San Joaquin Valley drinking water protection efforts and facilitate the direct participation of residents in public venues where water quality decisions are made.
EPA Earth Day Award
Working with EPA, Contra Costa County voluntarily replaced all lead wheel weights from thousands of tires, resulting in a reduction of more than 2,000 pounds of lead from the environment by 2012 and reducing exposure and bioaccumulation in the Bay ecosystem.
Contra Costa is the first county fleet in California to enroll in this EPA program and serves as a model both for public and private fleets.
EPA is helping East Palo Alto clean up and restore an 80-year-old toxic burn dump to create a new nine-acre bayfront nature park. Partners such as the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District have contributed land and biological expertise to plant new native vegetation to enhance the wildlife habitat for the nearby endangered California Clapper Rail and Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse.
National Environmental Justice Award
The EcoCenter is the first environmental education center in the Bay Area that focuses on environmental justice, and plays a major role in eco-literacy training for students, teachers, and communities in San Francisco. The EcoCenter is accessible to a significant number of residents, and is located in an area of the city where the greatest number of children and youth live in Bayview Hunters Point.
The EcoCenter It is dedicated to teaching the principles of environmental justice through demonstration, with hands-on training that design and architecture have a responsibility to go beyond aesthetics to play a regenerative role in communities that have been burdened by environmental problems. It has its own wastewater treatment system, generates its own energy and heat, and maximizes the use of natural light.
Watershed Improvement Project
Contamination with the pesticide diazinon continues to be a widespread issue in the watershed. A diverse group of stakeholders developed a variety of tools to reduce the use of diazinon and control polluted runoff from reaching waterways. Their combined efforts resulted in the removal of 79 river miles from the 303(d) List for diazinon impairments in 2010.
EPA and the Central Valley Regional Water Board produced a report to document the successful efforts to eliminate diazinon impairments in the Feather and Sacramento River watersheds, and to serve as a model for similar projects.
EPA Earth Day Award: Sustainable Agriculture Champion
Giacomazzi Dairy, recognized by EPA as a Sustainable Agriculture Champion, is a family farm of 900 cows and 600 acres, which has operated at the same location in Hanford, California since 1893. The farm is run as a holistic system and is continually looking for cultural practices that are sustainable both environmentally and economically. Working with USDA-NRCS & the University of California, Giacomazzi Dairy initiated the first demonstration evaluation of a strip-tillage corn planting system in the Central San Joaquin Valley, and has been experimenting since with different implements, plant varieties, and planting configurations to optimize that system.
Strip-tillage is a farming practice that involves tilling in narrow strips rather than disturbing soil in the entire field. This process radically reduces diesel, dust, and particulate emissions as well as fuel and labor costs. For corn-wheat rotation, the farm has reduced the annual number of tillage passes for each of his fields from 14 to 2. Giacomazzi Dairy has hosted several demonstrations and field days which have led to strip-till adoption in more than 25,000 acres in California, and has participated in numerous studies that will provide a better understanding of the relationship between dairy operations and air and water quality.
EPA Earth Day Award
The Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District's agricultural program works with small family farms to promote effective watershed management practices. Working with farms in Sonoma County's Estero Americano and Salmon Creek Watersheds, the district has provided training, technical expertise and over $6 million in watershed management projects.
The district and its partners, including the agricultural community, were able to set goals and develop action plans to reduce nutrient and sediment loadings in both watersheds. Over 80% of landowners participate in both watersheds. From this crucial partnership, family farms in western Sonoma County are on the path toward environmental and economic sustainability.
EPA Earth Day Award
GreenPlumbers is an innovative, national training and accreditation program that helps plumbers understand their role in protecting the environment and public health. The organization's goal is to change consumer behavior by training plumbers to promote use of water saving technologies and energy efficiency. By teaching "an army of plumbers" about the connection between water and energy, about alternative means of heating water in the home, about water-efficient technologies, and about how to evaluate a household's water use, GreenPlumbers is educating thousands of consumers on how to conserve and use water and energy more efficiently -- reducing bills and carbon footprints.
EPA Earth Day Award
Mayor Ashley Swearengin is fully invested in applying smart growth and sustainability principles as the city plans its future. A few years ago, the city issued its Strategy for Achieving Sustainability, which puts into action 25 strategies to bolster the "triple bottom line" of providing economic, environmental, and social benefits.
One of the 25 strategies in this plan is to achieve a 75 percent diversion to landfills by 2012 and zero waste to landfills by 2025. As of October, the city achieved a 74 percent landfill diversion rate. This would not have been possible without the actions of the City Council, the city's solid waste team, and most importantly, the committed community. The city is now in the process of developing forward-thinking downtown and neighborhood revitalization and growth plans to achieve more livable communities, preservation of agricultural land, cleaner air, healthier residents, and greater economic opportunity.
EPA Water Grant, Partnership
Napa vineyards have suffered flood damage and river bank collapse due to erosion. EPA and Napa County awarded over $3 million in grant funds to help restore several miles of the Napa River by reducing the sediment load. The Partnership, including vintners along the Napa River, will also convert approximately 135 acres of farmland to wildlife habitat, remove invasive species and implement best management practices to reduce sediment and pathogens on 80% of grazing lands in the Napa River watershed.
EPA Grant, Partnership
EPA is funding nearly $500 million of this $1.6 million Newcomb Avenue Streetscape Model Block Improvement Project, a first of its kind project in San Francisco. The 1700 block of Newcomb Avenue will be transformed into one of the most sustainable streets in the city, replacing significant areas of concrete with new landscaping, street trees, introducing stormwater planters and permeable pavers to allow rainwater to permeate into the ground, repaving the street, and promoting pedestrian safety and traffic calming.
Nevada City is working together with federal and local partners to assess abandoned mine sites, prioritize sites for cleanup, and analyze cleanup options for mine-scarred lands. The city is using Brownfields assessment funds to evaluate whether these former mining sites are safe as future recreation areas
The Oakland Housing Authority used $200,000 in Recovery Act funds to clean up a 1.5-acre industrial site for redevelopment, transforming the site into Lion Creek Crossings, which includes 367 units of mixed income housing, a park with a restored creek and wetland, and space for several non-profits including Head Start, a Boys & Girls Club, a computer lab, and a financial literacy center.
EPA Earth Day Award
California's greatest ongoing resource struggle has been over water supplies. Agriculture is by far the largest user, and the debate has largely focused on massive, costly, environmentally damaging infrastructure like dams, canals, and pumps. Today, it's even more urgent to find solutions in the face of recurring drought, expanding population, and the Delta fisheries collapse.
A recent report by the Pacific Institute's Heather Cooley, Juliet Christian-Smith, and Peter Gleick found that cost-effective, environmentally-friendly water management strategies already being used by some farmers could eliminate the need for 3-20 new dams. Their work has altered how we approach California's water crisis. The authors brought together traditionally opposed interest groups, helping farmers, irrigation district managers, policy makers, and state agencies forge a consensus on agricultural water conservation recommendations in the Delta Vision Committee Implementation Report.
Before the Pit River Tribe created its solid waste and recycling program, members of the community had few options for waste disposal. Illegal dumping and open burning were common, but the Pit River Tribe successfully brought waste disposal and recycling collection to tribal homes and businesses. The husband and wife team of Keith and Rita Moore implemented a pay-as-you-throw pick-up service along with a drop-off recycling center. Servicing the tribe's more than 9,000 acres in seven separate areas is a difficult task, but the duo have been successful in implementing the program and gaining support from the tribal council, and increasing awareness about solid waste and recycling.
EPA Earth Day Award
Sewer Science is a high school science laboratory that teaches students about wastewater treatment using specially designed tanks and standard testing equipment. The lab was developed in 1998 through a collaboration of San Jose State University, the city of Palo Alto, and 13 high school science teachers from seven high schools. The curriculum materials integrate science, math, and technology while addressing treated wastewater discharge and its effects on receiving waters.
The award-winning program is used in numerous California school districts, reaching students throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles metropolitan area and San Diego County. "Sewer Science" addresses the challenges of hands-on interdisciplinary learning while providing a unique high school outreach program.
Green Business of the Year Award
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company received EPA's Green Business of the Year Award for sustainability policies and projects since 1980 that reduced the company's environmental footprint across all of its operations. The brewery implemented a zero-waste policy -- diverting 99.5 percent of its solid waste from the landfill through source reduction, recycling, and composting. Sierra Nevada has made significant investments in renewable power, which now supplies 85% of the company's electricity needs. The company has also reduced its water use year after year, and has implemented an innovative water recycling program.
Environmental Justice Grant
The Watershed Project, a non-profit organization with a 13-year history of working in the Richmond community, will lead the Richmond Greenway Bioswale and Native Plant Garden (Greenway Garden) project, a community- based effort to transform a section of abandoned railroad into a transportation, education, and recreation resource for the community.
The Greenway Garden will restore a wildlife habitat in the heart of urban Richmond, educate the surrounding community about local gardening and demonstrate how the native habitat can reduce the need for pesticides in adjacent vegetable and fruit gardens.The project is designed to improve water quality in the Bay by reducing storm water and urban runoff pollution, increasing awareness of Low Impact Design best management practices, and increasing environmental literacy in the Richmond community.
EPA Earth Day Award
The U.S. Postal Service, led by its Recycling Program Manager for Northern California Patrick Langsjoen, helped establish recycling programs at 365 facilities that now recycle more than 12,000 tons per year -- generating $200,000 in revenue. In 2008, Langsjoen's leadership facilitated the transition from the use of lead-free wheel weights for the Pacific area's 31,000-vehicle delivery fleet. Langsjoen's work reduced workplace lead exposure by 5.5 tons and prevented a quarter ton of lead from entering the environment each year. This initiative served as the catalyst for the decision to transition the entire 215,000 vehicle delivery fleet to lead-free wheel weights, preventing 37 tons of lead from entering the environment annually.
EPA is helping Visalia to clean up two former railroad properties prior to redevelopment as the future site of the city's new civic center. EPA Brownfields Assessment and Cleanup grants totaling $236,000 were awarded to gain information on contamination and to create and implement a cleanup plan. Ultimately, the proposed civic center site is envisioned to be a mixed-use campus, which includes city offices, private office space, retail space and park facilities. Landscaping and trails would enhance the riparian area around Mill Creek which flows across the property.
EPA provided brownfield training to local community groups to develop an action plan for community-led brownfield reclamation in West Fresno. The training will improve awareness on brownfield issues and help the West Fresno community to organize and restore brownfield properties as the focal point for a larger revitalization of the community.