Friday, August 11, 2017

Sightings on the Watershed




Two Double-crested cormorants sun their spread wings to dry during a late summer afternoon on the San Andreas Reservoir. The pastime can be a common site around the watershed. 


Since the black seabirds are at home in both salt water and fresh, the watershed reservoirs provide ample small fish for food. During the spring breeding season, they’ll display the tufted crests they’re named for.  


Friday, August 4, 2017

Life on the Watershed: Bobcats,Young Cubs, and Watershed Health


The bobcat cubbing season is over. But the juveniles will be around for another several months, doing their part to sustain watershed health. 




When the cubs reach 8 to 11 months of age, the mother will evict them from her territory. The medium-size feline is distinguishable by its short bobbed tail. The Peninsula Watershed with its expanse of diverse vegetation is ideal habitat for these
predators, which are big enough to take down small deer but still agile enough to grab darting rabbits and other small animals.

Since they’re so high on the food chain, bobcats sustain a robust habitat by keeping the ecosystem balanced. They weed out species lower on the food chain, which otherwise would increase and overrun  the food resource. Then, while some starve, the rest of the population weakens and the gene pool declines.

It’s an effect that keeps trickling down to lower species, and eventually the plant communities as they get overgrazed. And that deprives critical lower forms, like earthworms--the recyclers. They're the ones that decompose dead leaves and other organic matter into smaller pieces, enabling  stored nutrients to  be  released back into the soil. The renewed soil replenishes the plant life, and the recharge works its way back--to the bobcats and on up.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Making Way for the Natives





Crews remove a grove of non-native invasive pine trees from an approximately half-acre site on the Peninsula Watershed between Black Mountain Road and Highway 280. We’ll hydroseed the area this fall with a special mix of native grass seed. Plantings of other species indigenous to the Crystal Springs area may follow later. 

The work is part of a long-term habitat restoration project at different sites throughout the watershed to bring back and maintain about 180 acres of native grass and woodland habitats--plus the diversity of plant and wildlife species that depend on them.



Friday, July 21, 2017

Life on the Watershed: Nesting Turtles

A reservoir native—the protected Western pond turtle—has just finished this year’s nesting, while the next generation gets ready for  life on its own.  


The females have dug into sunny sandy areas not far from the lake shore, laid their eggs, and gone back to the water. The eggs incubate in the warm sands for about three to four months. The tiny hatchlings will make their way to the water in the fall. Those newborn females won’t reach maturity, and begin their own nesting, for a good six years or more.  

The Peninsula Watershed is home and refuge to a multitude of native California wildlife species and has the highest concentration of rare, threatened or endangered species in the nine-county Bay Area. The Western Pond Turtle is designated a “species of special concern” by The California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 












Friday, July 14, 2017

Landscape Update for El Camino Real

Plans are underway to plant 15 coast live oaks along with attractive new groundcover on our pipeline right of way along El Camino Real between Southwood Drive and Orange Avenue in South San Francisco. The future trees are replacements for several we removed at that site to install a new groundwater pipeline as part of the Regional Groundwater Storage and Recovery Project (GSR). 


The new trees are scheduled for planting this coming October, when fall wet weather will increase their chance of survival. Groundcover will go in by the end of November, along with a new non-climable fence. 


The GSR includes the construction of up to 16 new recovery wells and associated facilities on the Peninsula. This project is the result of a landmark agreement between the SFPUC and City of Daly City, City of San Bruno and California Water Service Company to help manage the South Westside Groundwater Basin. In wet years these entities will use Hetch Hetchy water in place of their groundwater supplies to allow the aquifer to store up to 20 billion gallons of water for use in times of drought.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Firefighting on the Watershed



SFPUC Peninsula Watershed keepers joined San Mateo and Santa Cruz county firefighters in a recent training session, when the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) conducted a controlled burn in the vicinity of the San Andreas Reservoir Dam. The several-hour drill gave the approximately 40 participating first responders vital experience in fire suppression techniques, firing methods, and wildfire behavior. CAL FIRE managed the burn under strict weather and moisture conditions. The Sawyer Camp Trail was closed during the training. 

CAL FIRE and watershed staff coordinate throughout the year on preventing and responding to fires and other emergencies on the watershed and neighboring lands. 


Friday, June 30, 2017

The 4th of July Waters that Didn’t


The 4th of July should have been an anniversary for the ages—commemorating the flow of the first outside drinking waters into San Francisco.

At least that was the intention in 1862, when construction of a brand new dam on the Peninsula Watershed--the Pilarcitos--was rushed to time the arrival of the first Peninsula waters with the nighttime fireworks. While the fireworks went off on schedule, the water didn't start coming in until early the next morning on July 5. 

Previously the young, fast-growing city had relied on sources within its own boundaries, such as Lobos and Islais creeks, Mountain Lake and various wells. It was the Spring Valley Water Company (one of several private utility companies serving the people of San Francisco) that first looked to the neighboring Peninsula as an abundant source of additional drinking water.  

That first dam was soon replaced by another four years later. The second one survived the earthquakes of 1906 and 1989, and is still in service today.

It holds Pilarcitos Creek raw water primarily for delivery to the Coastside County Water District in Half Moon Bay. We also release reservoir water to improve fish habitat downstream. Some also still goes to the SFPUC's Crystal Springs Reservoir and the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System for supplemental supply.