San Pablo Creek was historically a year-round stream, free-flowing from the hills of Orinda/Moraga to the San Francisco Bay. The stream supported runs of Salmon and Steelhead as well as a native rainbow trout population and was a lifegiving riparian corridor.
Despite the construction of the San Pablo dam and reservoir in 1919, Orinda’s downtown creek was still relatively pristine until 1958 when it was “channelized” removing it from its natural flood plain and both straightening and narrowing it. The engineered concrete trapezoidal channel did not withstand a large storm in 1962 and was severely damaged. That damage and the remnants of the failed concrete are visible even today. Worse, the creek is susceptible to flooding and unable to support healthy plant, bird, fish and animal populations.
The restoration of the 1400 feet of open creek between Chevron and Safeway is widely supported by the entire community as well as the City of Orinda. The benefits of restoring our downtown creek are many and include:
Importantly, the City plans to integrate San Pablo Creek with its vision of a revitalized downtown. A restored San Pablo Creek will draw patrons to the area and encourage residents of Orinda to interact with local businesses and nature. Employing San Pablo Creek to establish a connection between the surrounding recreational trails and downtown will impart the healthy lifestyle that appeals to residents and visitors to our community.
Many cities in the Bay Area and beyond have supported successful creek restoration projects; this is Orinda’s opportunity to take back her creek and convert it into a beautiful, usable community asset. Join Friends of Orinda Creeks by going to our membership page to learn more about how you can help with protecting and restoring our creeks.