The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced 24 projects will be receiving $52 million in grant funding. The selected projects will help protect and restore wetlands and water quality, build climate change resilience, and increase environmental benefits with a focus on underserved communities in the nine Bay Area counties (Alameda, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Contra Costa, and San Francisco).
“The San Francisco Bay is one of our nation’s most iconic natural treasures and vital ecosystems, and its shores are home to numerous and diverse Californian communities,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “Thanks to the Biden-Harris Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Justice40 Initiative, EPA is proudly awarding a record level of funding to protect and restore the Bay’s watersheds and wetlands, and benefit surrounding underserved communities.”
Funding for these projects comes from EPA’s San Francisco Bay Water Quality Improvement Fund, a competitive grant program focused on restoring impaired watersheds, reducing polluted runoff, and building climate change resilience around San Francisco Bay. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law expanded the Fund’s mandate to increase equity and access to federal funding and climate resilience support for underserved communities. Since its inception, the Fund has invested over $120 million through more than 80 on-the-ground projects in the nine Bay Area counties.
Organizations receiving federal funding include:
San Francisco Estuary Institute (three grants totaling $7,625,000) – One grant will address high-priority pollution data gaps via information collection and modeling to improve PCB and nutrient management for San Francisco Bay. A second grant will fund pilot sediment reuse projects to help restore several acres of tidal marsh, transition zone, and riparian habitat in the Petaluma River, Rheem Creek, Lower Adobe Creek, and Stevens Creek watersheds. A third grant will be used to build green stormwater infrastructure for communities in Richmond and East Oakland, with project partners Urban Tilth and the Oakland Unified School District providing stormwater green job trainings and community tours.
California State Coastal Conservancy (two grants totaling $5,500,000) – One grant will support the restoration of 2,100 acres of former salt ponds to 1,300 acres of tidal marsh and 800 acres of enhanced managed ponds and improve four miles of existing levees. The project will also add transition slopes for sea level rise adaptation and four miles of trail to increase shoreline access. A second grant will support planning to collaboratively design 10 new living shoreline climate adaptation projects along the central San Francisco Bay, and also develop regional guidance for living shoreline and multi-benefit shoreline adaptation efforts.
San Francisco Estuary Partnership ($4,329,459) – Funds will be used to promote a suite of nature-based solutions, from planning and design to implementation and monitoring, for communities across the San Francisco Bay area. The project will also restore eight acres of transitional habitat at the Palo Alto Wastewater Treatment Plant and construct the first shoreline horizontal levee on the Bay to demonstrate the feasibility of multi-benefit nature-based solutions.
Marin County ($4,073,070) – Funds will support the county’s trash reduction activities, including designs for up to 17 stormwater treatment facilities, construction of a dewatering pad, and countywide public outreach and engagement. These activities are expected to capture over 8,000 gallons of trash annually.
Santa Clara Valley Water District ($3,800,000) – Funds will support the design and permitting of the re-connection of San Tomas Aquino and Calabazas creeks to the former salt ponds. This effort will restore approximately 1,800 acres of tidal marsh and enhance 50 acres of fresh/brackish marsh.
San Francisco Department of Recreation & Parks ($3,768,558) – Funds will be used to create bioretention basins to maximize the capture of stormwater and trash, thereby enhancing intertidal areas. The project will buffer against future sea level rise and allow for the continued existence of the intertidal habitats at a 6.2-acre park in an underserved community.
City-County Association of Governments San Mateo ($3,366,000) – Funds will support continued efforts to reduce trash entering San Francisco Bay. The project will include a regional workgroup to develop standard methods to evaluate the effectiveness of trash reduction measures in waters connecting to San Francisco Bay.
Santa Clara Valley Water District ($3,000,000) – Funds will support cleanups of encampment-generated trash, debris, and hazardous pollutants in nine heavily impacted Santa Clara County creeks, resulting in 2,000 tons of trash removal and 4,000 square feet of bank rehabilitation.
Sausalito Marin City School District ($3,000,000) – Funds will support the restoration of up to 600 feet of Willow Creek, providing an outdoor learning environment for the Nevada Campus students of the Sausalito Marin City School District. Additional green stormwater features will also be constructed on campus.
The SPHERE Institute ($3,000,000) – Funds will support design, permitting, and initial implementation costs for creating new tidal marsh and transition zone habitats to support shoreline resilience at a park along the Burlingame shoreline.
Contra Costa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District (two grants totaling $2,800,000) – One grant will support green stormwater infrastructure planning in old industrial areas throughout the underserved communities of Contra Costa County. A second grant will help improve watershed and water quality in Wildcat Creek by constructing a 400-foot-long “fish-friendly” reach and improving the existing sedimentation basin.
Richardson Bay Regional Agency ($2,782,586) – Funds will be used to restore at least 15 acres of eelgrass in Richardson Bay, continue implementation of the Richardson Bay eelgrass protection and management plan, develop a restoration and adaptive management plan, and remove marine debris.
City of Alameda ($1,472,500) – Funds will support creating over 6,000 square feet of green stormwater infrastructure bioretention areas at three intersections to manage stormwater runoff. This effort will be part of the City of Alameda Central Avenue Safety Improvement Project.
East Bay Regional Parks District ($1,200,000) – Funds will support the removal of over 1,000 toxic creosote-treated timber piles and 16,500 square feet of creosote-treated structures at Ferry Point Pier in Richmond.
All Positives Possible ($949,343) – Funds will be used for shoreline education, fish testing, garbage abatement, and shoreline preservation efforts, with a focus on training and increasing participation of community members and leaders from underserved neighborhoods along the shores of South Vallejo, the Carquinez Strait, and the Napa River.
City of San Jose ($419,002) – Funds will help teach San Jose high schoolers about watershed protection and support preparedness for climate change-related natural disasters, instilling resiliency and environmental stewardship in the next generation of young adults.
San Mateo County ($404,400) – Funds will support purchasing, installing, and maintaining a large trash capture device capable of removing about 3,500 gallons of trash per year from the North Fair Oaks community. The project will also develop an education and outreach program with a local youth engagement program.
Rose Foundation ($366,713) – Funds will support high school students from underserved communities and build their capacity as meaningful, active partners in planning a more equitable and sustainable water future at two project sites – Oakland Estuary and the Arroyo Viejo Creek watershed.
Acterra: Action for a Healthy Planet ($358,708) – Funds will be used to build capacity and climate change resilience in two underserved communities of San Mateo County (Belle Haven and North Fair Oaks neighborhoods) through trainings, community-led vulnerability assessments, and a feasibility analysis for nature-based solutions that enhance water quality and climate justice.
University of California Regents, Berkeley ($343,685) – Funds will be used to pilot the EcoBlock program to improve stormwater capture on an urban block in an underserved neighborhood in Oakland bordering Sausal Creek.
San Francisco Bay is a designated “estuary of national significance” under the Clean Water Act. The Bay and its tributary streams, situated in an urban area with more than seven million people, provide crucial fish and wildlife habitat at the heart of the larger Bay-Delta Estuary. In partnership with numerous non-profit organizations, watershed groups, land trusts, government agencies, and resource conservation districts, the San Francisco Bay Water Quality Improvement Fund has made significant progress in restoring water quality, ‘greening’ development, and building resilience to climate change impacts across San Francisco Bay and its watersheds.