Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What’s on Tap for the Peninsula in 2017?

Happy New Year to all of our customers and neighbors on the Peninsula! We have a busy year planned as we continue to repair, replace, and upgrade the water system that serves you. We are continuing work on Water System Improvement Program (WSIP) Projects that restore crucial habitat (Bioregional Habitat Restoration Project) and provide crucial water supplies in times of drought (Regional Groundwater Storage and Recovery Project).  We are also ramping up our efforts through our 10 year capital program to ensure that vulnerable portions of the system that were not addressed in the WSIP are upgraded. As always, subscribe to this blog to stay on top of our progress.

Peninsula Watershed Bioregional Habitat Restoration Program

Crews worked extensively in 2016 to remove invasive trees for habitat restoration.  In 2017 our crews will continue to monitor these areas for any re-sprouted weedy invasive trees and remove them. The trail will remain fully open, except for approximately two weeks in early spring, when we will completely resurface the trail’s southern half from the entrance to approximately mile marker 3. We will continue to restore habitat in less visible areas of the Peninsula Watershed this year as part of this effort. Work will continue through January 2018. For further information, please see here

SFPUC Peninsula Ridge Trail Extension Project

Environmental review of the proposed approximately 6-mile extension southward to Phleger Estate is now under way. The San Francisco Planning Department will host a public meeting on Wednesday, January 18, 525 Golden Gate Avenue, 2nd floor, 6:30 – 8 p.m. The purpose will be to receive public comments about the scope of potential environmental issues to be addressed in the pending Environmental Impact Report. The draft EIR is expected to be released in late summer or early fall, 2017.  For further information, please see here

San Andreas Pipeline #2 Upgrade Project in San Bruno

We are proposing to replace four separate segments of the 54-inch San Andreas Pipeline #2 within the City of San Bruno. These sections are almost 90 years old. Design began in 2016 and will continue through the first quarter of 2017. Construction is expected to start in later summer or early fall 2017.

Peninsula Pipeline Seismic Upgrades (Phase III)

From approximately mid-March through mid-July, we’ll be making seismic upgrades to a number of valves, service pipes, and other small facilities along our Sunset Supply Pipeline at different locations in South San Francisco and Colma. It’s being done to ensure that this major water transmission line serving both the Peninsula and San Francisco will withstand liquefaction and/or landslides caused by an earthquake. Every effort will be made to avoid inconvenience to residents, businesses, shoppers and drivers. 

Regional Groundwater Storage and Recovery Project

Charging forward, the Regional Groundwater Storage & Recovery project completed the drilling and the building of well facilities at 13 separate sites throughout the Peninsula in 2016. This year the focus will shift to testing the well sites to make sure they are operational and able to provide critical drinking water in an emergency. The project anticipates achieving completion in fall 2017.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Season’s Greetings: Native Christmas Berries Light Up the Watershed

Small wonder they’re called “Christmas Berries,” for this time of year is when they're at their peak, and they're everywhere along the Sawyer Camp Trail.     

They’re the fruit of a hardy native shrub, the Toyon, which thrives in oak woodland surroundings. While they’re brightening the watershed surroundings for the rest of us, the vivid hue also alerts the neighborhood wild that the season of holiday feasting is here.

The Toyon is one of the few native plants that provide winter food for fruit-eating birds, such as robins, thrushes, jays, hummingbirds, and more. Those flurries of activity draw in the mammals (which are color blind but love the berries too).  And all return the hospitality by dispersing the berry seeds elsewhere in winter-wet soils, where they take root before the dry weather sets in. 

The dense shrubbery also provides safe habitat for bird nests, along with cover for other species, and black-tailed mule deer nibble the
young green sprouts.

The robust evergreen usually ranges in height from 6 to 12 feet, but in shady area  can grow to more than 30 feet in quest of sunlight.   

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Happy Holidays from the Peninsula Region!!

Here’s a schedule of what to expect for construction over the holidays for the Regional Groundwater Storage & Recovery project:
  • No construction work from December 23, 2016 through December 26, 2016 at any well sites.Work will resume on December 27, 2016 through December 30, 2016. 
  • No construction work from Saturday December 30, 2016 through Monday January 2, 2016. Work will resume on January 3, 2016.

For the Bioregional Habitat Restoration project:
  • There will be no SFPUC work at the Sawyer Camp Trail through January 3, 2016.
  • Any concerns with access to the trail should be directed to the San Mateo County Parks & Recreation Department at (650) 573-2592.

As always please don’t hesitate to contact us at (866)973-1476, or email ecox@sfwater.org or blauppe@sfwater.org with any questions.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Life on the Watershed: Eater, Beware

The rains bring out the California newts—brownish amphibians that over the dry months have holed up in hollow logs, rock crevices, burrows and other safe, moist woodland havens. Now they’re on their annual pilgrimage to the breeding waters—the small, still pond or stream where they themselves were hatched. 

Like other amphibians, they begin life as larvae, with external gills for breathing. As they become adults, they develop lungs for life on land. When they first leave the waters, they’ll be away for about three years before braving their own first yearly return.  

Many of the adults we see now are making the weeks-long trek on tiny legs across miles of boulders, fallen trees, dense clumps of grass, fences, and other obstacles. Good thing they’re equipped with the famous salamander ability to regrow a lost tail or other limb (along with a heart, liver, spinal cord, brain part, lung part, or lens of an eye).

The resilient newt is fortunate in another key survival aid—a highly potent toxin. The odor it sends out and the bright orange belly give others the message, “POISON—Eaters, Take Heed.” And most do.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Dead on the Watershed: Our Fertile Snags

“Why are all those dead trees still here?” a Sawyer Camp Trail walker asked us as he eyed the newly restored habitat for the first time. 

Actually, you’ll see them all along the trail—snags (tall, dead and bare standing trees) that we’ve purposely left in place throughout the habitat restoration area and elsewhere in the watershed. 

In death, they are more of a natural resource than ever for an abundance of other life. Their loose bark harbors beetle, ants, and other insects that are food for birds, rodents and animals. Butterflies, bats and small animals find shelter there too.

Cavities drilled by woodpeckers become nests for swallows, flycatchers, and other “secondary cavity-nesters." With bills too small to drill their own nests, they depend on holes put there by others. Male songbirds sing out from open limbs to attract mates or declare nesting territory. Hawks and Bald eagles perch high on a snag to guard a nearby nest and watch for prey.  Trunk hollows become winter dens for raccoons, squirrels and other small animals.

Also in the restoration area, we’ve left scatterings of logs to decay where they are for the same reasons. As the wood decomposes, its nutrients mix into the soil, making it more fertile for healthy new plants.
Insects, salamanders, snakes, and mice take shelter in the rotting logs, and they in turn are prey for other, larger species. During the rains, the damp rotting wood and leaves give rise to mushrooms and other fungi. And the mushrooms are food for everything else—from insects to mammals--including deer in severe winters when other foraging is scarce.

In short, that dead wood provides more sustenance for the neighborhood wild than it did in life.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Giving Thanks for the Activists of Tomorrow

This Thanksgiving we’re grateful for a new wave of young environmentalists—like these three students from a nearby middle school  They’re focusing on a year-long "Animal Allies" project featuring the rare and endangered wildlife of the Peninsula Watershed, and they're sharing their findings and pictures with the rest of us at http://savecrystalsprings.weebly.com/

 A favorite species--they said during a recent visit to the Sawyer Camp Trail--is the Marbled murrelet, a California-endangered seabird. For their nests, murrelets gravitate to one particular Peninsula Watershed canyon. Cloaked in pristine old-growth forest, it is a unique locale that provides the heights, dense canopy and seclusion the secretive species needs to reproduce. 

Check out what the middle school team says on murrelets, the watershed’s nesting Bald eagle pair,  the ”amazing”  Mountain lion, and more at the link above. 

Thanks, Allies, for helping to lead the way!.  

 Marbled Murrelet photo by: Mojoscoast

Friday, November 18, 2016

Life on the Watershed: The Mystery of the Migrating Monarchs

It's called the "king of the butterflies."

We still see Monarch butterflies at this time of year, gliding gracefully by on the watershed and other local green areas. They’re actually on the road, traveling miles per day (sometimes 50 miles, 100, or even more). Destination: their ancestral wintering grounds

These late fall Monarchs differ from others we see in spring and summer in one critical attribute—longevity. Hatched in September or October, they’re now in migration and will live six to eight months (as opposed to their spring and summer forebears that feast on the nectar of seasonal flowers for a brief few weeks before dying).

The fall butterflies are the fourth generation. And they’re making the same journey as their great great grandparents did the year before. The wintering grounds themselves are certain stands of tall trees where up to thousands of  Monarchs cluster every year to hibernate. 

How they know just where to go four generations later is one of  nature’s mysteries.

They’ll emerge from hibernation in February or March, and reproduce to launch the next cycle of migrants northward (each of the next three generations traveling further north). Then, next year at about this time, the fourth-generation descendants of the butterflies we’re seeing today will make the same long journey south,   

Destination: the same wintering grounds. .