"When you put your hand in a flowing stream, you touch the last that has gone before and the first that is still to come."
Leonardo da Vinci
The San Francisco Bay is the largest estuary on the West Coast of the U.S. where fresh water from the Central Valley mixes with the salt water of the Pacific. Crabs, clams, fish and birds live in its deepwater channels, marshes and tidelands.

A Bioswale is Born

Santa Fe Dry Creek Meanders through the Greenway

By Matt Freiberg

Hardhats and heavy machinery have been out in full force along the Richmond Greenway. The Watershed Project's Greening Urban Watersheds Program is hard at work on Phase Two of the Richmond Greenway Bioswale project. In the last weeks of June, we worked with contractors to construct a 140-foot addition to the creek-like bioswale, bringing the total length of pollutant-filtering channel to 400 feet.

The bioswale project began two years ago when The Watershed Project staff recognized that the space between 6th and 8th street was perfect for an outdoor classroom and a community learning space to highlight sustainable gardening practices. As they worked on the garden, they noticed flooding in a trench along the greenway. The pooling stormwater contained large amounts of dirt, oil, and chemicals from neighborhood streets, roofs, and yards and was carrying it all straight to the Bay.

The Watershed Project saw this stormwater issue an opportunity to involve the community in a project to fight urban runoff and improve downstream environments.

The Watershed Project began to work with local residents, City of Richmond officials, landscape designers, and engineers to carefully design the swale project so that it provides microhabitat for local wildlife, reduces the volume of stormwater flowing to the bay, and uses plants, soil, and bacteria to filter urban runoff, cleaning the water before it reaches the Bay. We also designed the project to be a beautiful green space for people to enjoy.

Now that all the major digging and construction is complete, we need YOUR help. Every second Saturday of the month, we will be at the Richmond Greenway between 6th and 8th street working to beautify the site by weeding, watering and planting. Volunteers who join us will learn more about how the bioswale works and how plants can reduce pollution and flooding.

If you are interested in being a part of a community-led project that uses natural solutions to solve urban challenges, contact Program Manager Matt Freiberg at matt@thewatershedproject.org.

Photos by Matt Freiberg