By Lisa Owens
Before cities and suburbs covered the landscape with asphalt and concrete, the Bay Area was a much softer, spongier place. The ground used to “breathe,” absorbing rainfall and slowly recharging underground aquifers. Redwood forests, oak woodlands, meadows and grasslands helped intercept and slow heavy rains, with the soft ground beneath them allowing water to infiltrate slowly.
Today in heavy rains, rainwater races off of sidewalks, streets, and rooftops, and heads straight for local creeks and San Francisco Bay, along with the oil, grease, pesticides, heavy metals, and other pollutants it picks up along the way. This rapid runoff also causes localized flooding in urban and suburban areas. Can we turn this pattern around and get back to a more permeable landscape? How can we get cities to think more like the forests and meadows they used to be?
On Wednesday, January 28, 2015, we are hosting a free half-day (9 am-1 pm) forum for stormwater managers, city and agency staff, private and public funders, and nonprofits, to hear from people who are working hard to green our urban watersheds. We will discuss how we can partner to make our watersheds more permeable, save our valuable rainfall, improve water quality, and increase the resiliency of our watersheds.
Speakers will discuss new Low Impact Designs and best practices from around the country, new projects (both planned and in-the-ground), the latest regulatory requirements, successes and challenges, as well as funding opportunities and constraints. And we’ll hear from funders about examples of projects that have been–and are likely to be–funded in the future.
Speakers include Derek Hitchcock (The Watershed Project); Brock Dolman (Occidental Arts and Ecology Center); Keith Lichten (San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board); Josh Bradt (San Francisco Estuary Partnership); Jane Martin (PlantSF); Francesca Vietor (San Francisco Foundation); and the Strategic Growth Council. Melanie Mintz (City of El Cerrito) will give a short tour of the rain gardens at City Hall. The Watershed Project’s Green Collar Corps will be there to speak about their recent experiences building rain gardens and tree box filters in Richmond.
We are very grateful to the Rose Foundation for sponsoring this event and to the City of El Cerrito for providing the venue at El Cerrito City Hall, 10890 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito, CA (a short walk from BART).
Space is limited: To reserve a spot go to our Eventbrite page.
Contact Derek Hitchcock (Derek@thewatershedproject.org for more info).