San Pablo Creek creates a riparian ribbon of green as it flows from the Glorietta area, through downtown Orinda, to San Pablo Reservoir and eventually out to the Bay. Before the construction of the San Pablo dam and reservoir in 1919, the stream supported plentiful runs of Salmon and Steelhead as well as a native rainbow trout population
The creek was relatively pristine until 1958 when the Village section was moved from its natural watercourse into a straight and narrow concrete channel, effectively reducing its capacity to carry floodwater. Subsequently, building and paving over the flood plain (downtown Orinda), further increased flooding potential by increasing runoff. In 1962, the concrete channel was severely damaged by a large storm and declared inadequate for its design capacity. Further flooding has occurred since then during years with heavy rainfall. In its current condition, the Village section of San Pablo Creek is eroded, unappealing, difficult to access, and provides inadequate habitat for native riparian plants and animals.
Degraded Channel, Orinda Village
The restoration of almost 1400-feet of creek between Chevron and Safeway is widely supported by the entire community as well as the City of Orinda. Some years ago Friends of Orinda Creeks hired a consultant to prepare a Preliminary Restoration Plan which was accepted by the City. The Waterways Restoration Institute concluded that the creek could be restored at a cost less than that for constructing a new concrete channel. In addition to lessening future flooding, it would provide paths and benches where people can enjoy nature and perhaps even a creekside café or two. Importantly, the City plans to integrate San Pablo Creek with its vision of a revitalized downtown. Our creek is an amenity not every town has – it is time to turn it into the beautiful resource it can be.
A restored creek will draw patrons to the area and encourage residents of Orinda to interact with local businesses and nature. Paths connecting recreational trails, BART and downtown will impart the healthy lifestyle that appeals to residents and visitors to our community. A restored creek could be the prized asset in the Connect Orinda project. Specific benefits include: