News

Water board tells Stanford it supports removing Searsville Dam

Endanged species threatened by the dam, agency says

The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board has sent Stanford University a letter saying the agency supports "alternatives that focus on dam removal" as the university moves toward a decision on what to do with Searsville Dam and its reservoir.

The dam is located off Sand Hill Road west of I-280, in the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve on Stanford land.

The letter is dated March 30 and signed by Bruce Wolfe, executive officer of the water board, which is a state agency.

"We have been, and continue to be, supportive of alternatives that focus on dam removal," the letter says. The letter says the dam "remains a complete barrier to steelhead migration, greatly reducing the amount of habitat that is accessible, and placing this steelhead population at much greater risk of extinction."

The dam was built between 1888 and 1892 by the Spring Valley Water Company, and was supposed to supply water to San Francisco, but the water was foul tasting and never used as drinking water.

Stanford acquired the dam and reservoir in 1919.

In 2013 Stanford announced it was studying the fate of the dam because the reservoir is more than 90 percent filled with silt and could be completely dried up in another 20 years. Among the options being studied are removing the dam, restoring the reservoir through dredging, allowing the reservoir to completely fill in, partially excavating the reservoir, or diverting water to another area such as Felt Lake.

Stanford now uses water diverted by the dam, when water is available, for uses such as irrigation.

Stanford had said it would make a decision on the fate of Searsville by the end of 2014, but the university has not yet made an announcement.

In the meantime, environmental groups have sued the university, saying the dam and water diversions by Stanford are threatening endangered species, including steelhead trout and the red-legged frog.

Last year the American Rivers foundation named San Francisquito Creek the fifth most endangered river in the US because of Searsville Dam.

"Stanford University's 65-foot Searsville Dam blocks threatened steelhead from reaching 20 miles of habitat upstream, impairs water quality, and poses flooding risks for local communities," the organization said.

Beyond Searsville Dam has been fighting for the dam's removal for years. Matt Stoeker, director of the group, said the letter from the water board is "a powerful message supporting the removal of Searsville Dam, while also questioning the feasibility of other potential alternative futures for the dam."

Mr. Stoecker said "the letter also stresses the importance of safely restoring the flow of beneficial sediment downstream for the health of San Francisquito Creek and to improve the resiliency of listed wildlife, San Francisco Bay wetlands and coastal communities facing the adverse impacts of climate change and sea level rise."

The letter was addressed to Jean McCown, director of community relations at Stanford and co-chair of the committee looking at alternatives for the dam. Ms. McCown did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.

Comments

10 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 2, 2015 at 8:29 am

This has sure taken awhile. The dam serves no useful purpose and endangers wildlife so why keep it?


11 people like this
Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 2, 2015 at 10:34 am

Stanford has been ignoring this problem for so many years, that I thought this article was a leftover April Fools item.


11 people like this
Posted by Raymond
a resident of Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Apr 2, 2015 at 10:39 am

I read this article because the first two words are "Water board".


11 people like this
Posted by Jeanie Smith
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 2, 2015 at 10:46 am

I remember many happy summers cavorting in Searsville Lake, but that was long long ago-- time to move on and restore the natural habitat of the creek and its surrounding environment... Come on, Stanford, you can do it and do it right...


5 people like this
Posted by Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 2, 2015 at 10:49 am

So much for using local resources, instead, people want to waste energy bringing more water from the mountains with a dwindling snow pack. Haven't they heard of global warming?


11 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 2, 2015 at 10:53 am

Children don't have time to cavort anymore. Sure was fun while it lasted.


6 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 2, 2015 at 12:03 pm

Stanford drains water to Langunita irrigating a bunch of weeds. Take a walk and see. Very usefull.


1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 2, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Well, probably useful to the creatures who live in those weeds.
Or has it been insecticided to death? I'll check it out...


2 people like this
Posted by Hello
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 2, 2015 at 12:37 pm

What if they removed a few layers of the dam, would that have a similar or positive effect as taking the whole thing down? If you remove the whole dam, what happens when all the water runs dry? Once it hits the bay, it is completely useless, no?

Please educate me.


6 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 2, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Well done Barbara and PA online!
Stanford will get international recognition for removing this destructive dam, restoring their Jasper Ridge "Preserve" for native species, and carry out precedent setting research on how to restore a watershed while using water more efficiently. The dam evaporates a high amount of water that becomes inaccessible to Stanford and the creek wildlife. They have a dam less diversion downstream that can take less water and store off-stream in Felt Reservoir. It's a no brainer. The dam is coming down. Stanford will save face and millions in legal costs if they just embrace the inevitable now and take this damn dam down.


6 people like this
Posted by Jonathan Brown
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 2, 2015 at 1:32 pm

Make a fish ladder and use the lake as a reservoir. We need more sources of water locally, not fewer. If a species hasn't already gone extinct in the 100+ years since the dam was built, keeping the dam won't cause it go extinct now (particularly if what we're talking about is the pertinacious red herring!).


8 people like this
Posted by Matt Stoecker
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 2, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Thank you Barbara Wood for continuing coverage of this issue.

"Hello" from Midtown brings up some good questions I'd like to respond to:

"What if they removed a few layers of the dam, would that have a similar or positive effect as taking the whole thing down?"

MS- Lowering the dam and eliminating the reservoir would benefit flows, habitat conditions, and water quality downstream as the reservoir currently evaporates a lot of water in the summer that is needed as flow downstream. A lowered dam would restore beneficial sediment and wood movement downstream that would benefit habitat conditions that are currently starved by the dam. No reservoir would also reduce and/or eliminate the many non-native fish and bullfrogs that rely on it and prey on native species. Still, steelhead and other species would be blocked by the remaining dam. Fishways at the dam have not been shown to be feasible due to the flashy nature of the creek, limited flows, and subsurface flow conditions upstream in the reservoir area due to massive sedimentation behind the dam (which would remain in part or whole unless the dam is lowered to the downstream creek bed). Leaving part of the dam in place would also limit restoration opportunities and getting the creek back to the most functional condition as possible. Leaving part of the dam also leaves Stanford with ongoing maintenance and liability costs indefinitely.

"If you remove the whole dam, what happens when all the water runs dry?"

MS- By eliminating the current reservoir evaporation, with dam removal, there would actually be more flow available in the creek downstream for wildlife and Stanford's less harmful, downstream, damless diversion near the golf course; and likely their groundwater wells too. The best investment Stanford can make is reducing water needs by eliminating some of their extensively irrigated lawns and replace them with drought tolerant native plants and promote groundwater recharge (along with flood protection basins being discussed) and aquifer storage. Underground there is no evaporation and no sedimentation issues reducing reservoir water storage capacity as is happening now.

"Once it hits the bay, it is completely useless, no?"

MS- One of the most beneficial aspects of removing Searsville Dam is that it will restore the flow of silt and sediment downstream to the SF Bay and, as USGS scientists have shown, will increase the health of wetlands there and flood protection for bayside communities by building up the wetlands and creek delta with new soil to combat rising seas. Water is needed to transport this sediment to the Bay and to enable migratory steelhead trout to run up the creek in the winter and get back down to the Bay before the summer. The health of the Bay estuary also depends on the mixing of freshwater and saltwater. So, the flow of water down the creek to the Bay is extremely import an to the health of the watershed and the estuary (which is also a nursery for many marine fish and mammals).

Removing Searsville Dam is an historic opportunity for Stanford, the Bay, the watershed and all of the surrounding communities!

-Matt Stoecker

Biologist, Stoecker Ecological

Director, Beyond Searsville Dam


5 people like this
Posted by Dennis Smith
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 2, 2015 at 2:18 pm

Isn't there a danger to the fish from the large volume of sediment that would presumably be released as the dam is removed and future rains wash sediment downstream? Silt-laden water is potentially life-threatening to steelhead and other fish species.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 2, 2015 at 2:55 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Hopefully people realize that when the dam is removed there will be thousands of truckloads of sediment that will have to be hauled through Portola Valley and adjacent communities - be prepared and don't claim that you did not demand this to happen.


1 person likes this
Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 2, 2015 at 3:43 pm

SteveU is a registered user.

Sediment is Natural (or it would not be there in the first place). If the Dam had not been there, the sediment would have flowed to the bay

Removing it all at once is a big problem. 1)Where to put it. 2)Traffic and Truck caused pollution and road wear.

Why not a controlled release (agitate/stir, bottom siphon) during heavy rains to restore what SHOULD have happened naturally if the Dam was not there.


9 people like this
Posted by Len
a resident of Portola Valley
on Apr 2, 2015 at 5:34 pm

Peter,
Your definitive statements show a clear lack of knowledge about the issue and desire to try and scare people with misinformation. Searsville Dam is not in Portola Valley and any project equipment would use a direct path from Highway 280 to the large Sand Hill Road and direct access to Searsville and Jasper Ridge access points. They would not go through Portola Valley or any neighborhoods or small residential streets. In addition, sediment management options include stabilizing sediment on site since much is under decades of forested growth and carefully transporting sediment downstream with higher winter flows and phased lowering. Both of these options are being used extensively with dam removals around the country. In fact, hauling sediment away in trucks is used much less than these other two options being considered for Searsville. Material hauled away may be relatively small compared to the other two sediment management options and limited to the concrete dam and a small amount of sediment. Sediment and woody debris would also be used to recontour the site and carry out the restoration and native plant revegatation efforts. Please don't interject your false scare tactics here.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 2, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Sediment refers to the material that is below the surface of the lake - by definition that is not forested.

"transporting sediment downstream with higher winter flows and phased lowering" requires lots of rainfall, actually many, many years of rainfall. And, notably, we are not getting much of that lately.

To put this into perspective:

"The reservoir has lost over 90% of its original water storage capacity as roughly 1.5 million cubic yards of sediment has filled it in" per Wikipedia.

A large dump truck carries about 10 cubic yards and a tandem carries about 18 cubic yards.

Removing the entire 1,500,000 cubic yards would require 150,000 truck loads.

I welcome documented facts to the contrary.


Like this comment
Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 2, 2015 at 7:38 pm

I wonder what city manager James Keene thinks about the statement made by Bruce Wolfe ?


7 people like this
Posted by Len
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 2, 2015 at 7:45 pm

Peter, you are wrong again on multiple fronts. Since you have asked for documented facts to dispute your statements, here they are:

1) You write: "Sediment refers to the material that is below the surface of the lake - by definition that is not forested."

You are alone among everyone working on this issue and all the experts on thinking that the Searsville sediments only occur below the surface of the reservoir. Please see the below link to one of the most comprehensive studies Stanford has commissioned on the sediment behind the dam, by one of the most respected firms in the country: Sediment and Channel Dynamics of the Searsville Lake Watershed and Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, Balance Hydrologics. The report explains in great detail, and shows figures of, the Searsville-caused "sedimented areas at and above the head of Searsville Lake" and above reservoir sediment "delta progradation" Beginning on p. 99 Figures 1, 3, 13, 14. Figure 14 shows very clearly how much of the Searsville Dam trapped sediment occurs above the elevation of the existing and original reservoir surface as it accumulates and backs up Corte Madera Creek thousands of feet from where the original reservoir elevation extended too. Vegetation, yes mature forests (see appendix images), have become well established on top of this Searsville sediment and are similarly well documented here:

Web Link

2) You write: "transporting sediment downstream with higher winter flows and phased lowering" requires lots of rainfall, actually many, many years of rainfall. And, notably, we are not getting much of that lately."

Transporting sediment during dam removal projects does NOT require "many, many years of rainfall". In fact, most dam removal projects of this size that employ the sediment transport option have moved most or all of the trapped sediment downstream within days to 1-3 years time, depending on how fast the dam is removed. Please search the following recent dam removals online to see how they flushed sediment in single winter flow events or within 1-3 years: Savage Rapids Dam, Gold Ray Dam, Marmot Dam, Elwha Dam, Condit Dam, Veazie Dam, Great Works Dam, the list goes on and on. Please search You Tube with these dam names and you will see time-lapse video of several of these removals and quick sediment release.

3) You write: "The reservoir has lost over 90% of its original water storage capacity as roughly 1.5 million cubic yards of sediment has filled it in" per Wikipedia. A large dump truck carries about 10 cubic yards and a tandem carries about 18 cubic yards. Removing the entire 1,500,000 cubic yards would require 150,000 truck loads."

Did you not read my earlier reply that trucking all the sediment out is NOT what is being considered or practical? Again, as you will see in the Balance report cited above, much of this reservoir deposited sediment now occurs under mature forested Searsville sediment deltas and can be further stabilized in place, much occurs upstream of a causeway weir built decades ago, more is trapped in the two upper remaining open water parts of the reservoir, and much of the fine silt and clay (which dominates the type of sediment in the reservoir) can be flushed downstream to the Bay, potentially with one reasonable winter flow event.

Please read the Balance report and I welcome any documentation you have that supports the 6 inaccurate claims you have made so far.


Like this comment
Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 2, 2015 at 8:17 pm

Lets do some simple math, according to Wiki the dam has 1.5 million cubic yards of silt. An end dumps' capacity is twenty tons, this is equal to about twelve cubic yards of dry soil . This equals 125,000 to 150,000 truck loads. Oh yea I forgot, first you have to dry it, then you have to find a site that will take it.At $500 a load that would be$62,500,000 to $75,000,000 in loading and off-haul alone .Provided it passes Analytic testing.This is just the tip of the iceberg.Talk about a nightmare: E.I.R reviews,Dam remediation, Fish and Game ect.....

Remember the problems of a simple levee project near the golf course?
Whoever wants to take this on, good luck!


Like this comment
Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 2, 2015 at 8:24 pm

@Ken

That report you referred to, it looks like it expired in 1997.

Like I said, good luck!


2 people like this
Posted by Howard
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 2, 2015 at 9:51 pm

So far there has been no mention of the possible use of the dam for flood control. If it is retained, and dredged or sediment otherwise removed, and left completely open except during high rainfalls where it could be closed and used to temporarily retain the flood water, then it would be win-win, because the trout would normally have free travel, except every 100 years or so when there is a flood.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe Commentor
a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2015 at 11:17 am

Stanford the university, like the man, is the epitome of 'the 1%' and 'eco-terrorism'. Stanford, today as it has for 100 years, gets its water from Yosemite National Park. Check and mate!


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 3, 2015 at 12:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Looking at the cited Fig. 14 it appears that about 50% of the 1,500,000 cubic yards of sediment are below the existing lake surface and hence unforested.

IF that has to be relocated it would take 75,000 truck loads.

If it is to simply be washed downstream what would be the impact on the low gradient portions of the stream in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto where much of this sediment would, because of the low gradient, be deposited?


4 people like this
Posted by Len
a resident of Portola Valley
on Apr 3, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Water Board,
Please see the above note about why trucking all sediment away is not being considered nor feasible. The report was written in 1997 and reports don't "expire". This report is still extensively used and Balance Hydrologics adds to it regularly.

Howard,
Good point, flood protection is a key part of this whole planning process and no options would be considered or pursued if it elevated downstream, or the current upstream, flooding situation. Options are being considered that would remove the dam, build downstream storm water capture basins, restore floodplain and capture within the reservoir area, and actually reduce downstream flooding and dam failure risks.

Peter,
Not true again. That figure is only showing the longitudinal profile from the dam up one of the tributaries, Corte Madera Creek, and does not include the profiles up the other creeks and sedimentation and reforestation (Sausal, Dennis Martin, Alambique). This is also not a cross sectional profile to show latitudinal sedimentation and revegetation. That profile is also 20 years old and much more of the reservoir has filled in with sediment and been revegetated since 1995. Revegetation on top of Searsville sediment is now closer to 80%. Studies of sediment transport in the watershed have shown that little, if any, of the fine sediment (clays and silt) that would be released downstream with suitable flows would accumulate in the channel and would be flushed to the Bay. Fines dominate the sediment type trapped behind the dam, so most CAN be safely released with well managed flows and releases from a controlled dam removal. The less common, larger material (gravel, cobble) would likely not be released downstream, but stabilized or trucked. Boulders and cobbles are also commonly used to stabilize finer material on site as part of the restoration effort. So, your huge truck traffic claims remain unsupported claims that are ignoring the two more likely sediment management options to be employed here.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 3, 2015 at 3:48 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Studies of sediment transport in the watershed have shown that little, if any, of the fine sediment (clays and silt) that would be released downstream with suitable flows would accumulate in the channel and would be flushed to the Bay"

Please provide the source citation.

"The report was written in 1997 and reports don't "expire". " vs "That profile is also 20 years old and much more of the reservoir has filled in with sediment and been revegetated since 1995." You can't have it both ways.

"This is also not a cross sectional profile to show latitudinal sedimentation and revegetation"
Yet that is exactly what you claimed earlier it was in your earlier posting. " Figure 14 shows very clearly how much of the Searsville Dam trapped sediment occurs above the elevation of the existing and original reservoir surface as it accumulates and backs up Corte Madera Creek thousands of feet from where the original reservoir elevation extended too. "

Which are the true facts??


Posted by Fun
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

on Apr 3, 2015 at 7:02 pm


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Like this comment
Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 3, 2015 at 9:48 pm

@Len

Your right, it was written in 1997,however environmental policy and law has changed since then. Stir in the mix,powerful groups like ; Save the Bay, Acterra, Sierra Club ect.. It will make the proposal extremely difficult to achieve.

Also I believe, Bruce Wolfe, did not create many friends in regards to Palo Alto City Council and Staff, In particular City Manager James Keene.

Like I said, "Good Luck"!


Like this comment
Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 4, 2015 at 9:37 am

@ Len

Regarding the proposal to remove the dam, there is some politicking involved.

Remember the levee project? . That would be the mountain of dirt sitting dormant at the golf course. The project that was halted by Bruce Wolfe . If I recall correctly, there was something in the order of 8 million dollars of state funding that was needed to complete the project.There was also a deadline to receive the funds.Furthermore, there was something about a harvest mouse, that certainly did not help this project along. I do not see anymore dirt trucks going to the golf course.Dirt bis expensive to get rid of in the bay area. . Most of the dirt that was supposed to go to the golf course was coming from Stanford projects, namely projects involving developer John Arrillaga,you know, the guy that built Stanford Stadium.There are some folks out there with axes to grind. This will be interesting to see how this plays out. Let the games begin!

Like I keep saying, "Good Luck"!

P.S. If someone has something to add, please chime in.


Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 4, 2015 at 8:22 pm

If you all have not noticed dirt is being hauled from SU construction sites to the "soccer field" in the Baylands that is now a mound of toxic dirt.
So now we have two giant mounds of dirt in the Baylands. You all are arguing about moving dirt but no one cares that has already happened - and continues to happen - there is dirt being hauled in a continual process.

The dirt from the dam should be good dirt since it is silt and should have lot of nutrients in it. This should have value to the mid-peninsula open space and others who need good dirt to fill in areas that are now depleted.
Since we have no rain then this is the time to do it. There are a lot of farming activities that could use an infusion of new dirt - you can't keep farming on the same dirt with no additives.

There should be a good market for this dirt - farming is on going everywhere. SU has to move out and get going here - start taking it off the top and working down.

There is such a reluctance to touch this area. I am starting to think that here is something at the bottom no one wants found. Remember the flu epidemic in 1918 - my grandfather died on SU campus due to that horrendous event - the whole place was turned into a hospital. I suspect that a number of strange things will be found - like an architectural dig.


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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 4, 2015 at 9:12 pm

@ Resident 1

1) The dirt from Stanford University that is stockpiled at the the golf course for the levee project is not toxic. Law requires analytic soil testing for every project requiring excavation over 500 cubic yards.From what I understand, Stanford projects requiring a soils test goes above and beyond normal testing, Arsenic (As), Cadmium (Cd), Chromium (Cr),ect.. They do this prior to a project so they have an alternative site to offload ,just in case, mid stream of the project, their offload site is not available.This is exactly what happened at the golf course.

2) You bring up an interesting point about the flu epidemic that occurred in 1918. Back in the mid 1980's we used to sneak in and swim at Searsville. Every time afterward we would get flu like symptoms after swimming in the lake. Hopefully this was just a coincidence.


Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 4, 2015 at 9:35 pm

My understanding of the dirt hill in the baylands at the golf course is that
a specification was provided that stated what the qualifications for the dirt should be and the dirt that ended up there is not in conformance with the specifications - it is useless. That came up in a previous discussion on this subject. There is dirt - and there is dirt - not all the same. If this dirt came from the excavation on the Page Mill construction site then it is in the category of dirt that does have contaminants.

If you look at the silt in the dam then you are looking at a useful dirt additive that has value.


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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 4, 2015 at 11:17 pm

@ resident 1

From what I understand, the levee project required an engineered fill.3/4 inch minus, plasticity index, probably >10 and so on.....I am not sure if the Contractor met these specs. However, I do not think the silt from Searsville would qualify as an engineered fill for this particular project.

When you use the word contaminants you are referring to the quality of the soil not toxic contaminants within the soil,no? I doubt the city would allow the latter. Especially with so many environmental groups scrutinizing every move.


Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 5, 2015 at 8:47 am

The silt in the lake is just that - silt. It is not competing with raw dirt that comes up when you excavate a huge underground parking lot and are now digging into raw earth for the first time.

The USGS has maps which describe the earthquake vulnerability and soil type in layers as you move up from the bay (fill) to the different sections as you go up to the mountains. Stanford is not on the same soil type as lower down by the bay. They have this lined out fairly accurately. This is good information to know when you buy a house and are paying for flood insurance.

I am on adobe soil which is not good soil so a lot has to be done to enhance it. Anyone who has had to pay for soil enhancers that break up the soil knows what type they have and how productive it is.

And yes - there are toxic contaminants in the soil if it was brought in from the construction sites in Stanford Research Park. A lot has been written about the need to stop development to allow the toxic part to dissipate into the air over time. I think that is why you have a soccer field on El Camino and Paige Mill.

That is also why you do not have a yacht harbor - a law was passed that you cannot dredge contaminated soil and drag it off to some other location and dump it. The people who had boats ended up in San Mateo. Any thought that you are going to drag earth around to fill in the holes in the bayfront you can forget.

History - Embarcadero Road led to a somewhat useable port for bringing lumber up to rebuild San Francisco - more than once. The lower bay started to fill in when levees were constructed for flood control and to add fill for purpose of development. The goal is not to perpetuate that ongoing process.


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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 5, 2015 at 9:02 am

@ resident 1

So what you are claiming ,for example, the project on the corner of Hanover and Oregon Expressway is contaminated, and the spoils are now residing at the golf course? I sure hope this is not true, but if it is, that sure would be an expensive haul off. I would think our fine city government would not allow this to happen.


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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 5, 2015 at 9:29 am

@ resident 1

"So now we have two giant mounds of dirt in the Baylands. You all are arguing about moving dirt but no one cares that has already happened - and continues to happen - there is dirt being hauled in a continual process."

There is not an argument about moving dirt. The argument is who is going to pay for this. This why I tried to estimate how much this project would cost. I figure it would be in the 1/4 Billion dollar range. I am sure that this not a lot of money for Stanford, I just do not want to see the tax payers footing the bill. Furthermore, I do not want to see environmental groups like Acterra making tons of money off projects like these.


Like this comment
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 5, 2015 at 10:26 am

Its not my job to solve the problem - it is too big - but I can make an educated guess on what is going on here. Two gigantic mounds sitting in the baylands -my guess is that those are sitting there because they want the toxic part to dissipate into the air over time.

Searsville Lake - SU does not want to touch this or let water come down - at some point this does not make sense. Unless the water that is coming down off the hills into the lake is problematical. We have that problem all over the bay based on old mines leaking toxic substances - that is happening in San Jose. Something is wrong up there beyond the simple explanations that are being handed out.

So what is at the top - the Dish, SLAC, agricultural land that used herbicides. Lots of possibilities here. Also the lumber and milling that took place up there. There was a town up there - gold miners.

Moffett Field is a super fund site - I know that because I go to those meetings where the EPA is discussing their progress in the clean-up.

Barron Park has a toxic problem that has been discussed in this forum - clean up of the creek.

The building of SU in itself was a major project - cutting stone, laying in the whole group of buildings - lots of history there using techniques for those times.

The area that Google is using on Charleston is on a dump site. When they first planted trees they died because of the methane gas leaking underground. They had to figure out how to resolve that problem - that was before Google.

First the problems that are creating resistance should be identified so that they can be realistically discussed and resolved.

The cost element as a resistance tool should also be discussed because the longer you wait the worse it will get - that also does not make sense.

The problem is bigger than the lake but the lake is the trigger point for all of the other problems.


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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 5, 2015 at 11:47 am

"Two gigantic mounds sitting in the baylands -my guess is that those are sitting there because they want the toxic part to dissipate into the air over time".


The first mound at the golf course is there to raise the levee, which will go away.The second mound is the landfill cap-off.The claim that that dirt is contaminated is far fetched. The Majority of dirt that is used for the cap-off is usually from a 15 mile radius.So if what you are saying is true, the whole peninsula is contaminated.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 5, 2015 at 11:58 am

@neighbor
My guess is that you are making wild, unsubstantiated and inaccurate assertions and that we should stick to informed discussions rather than your guesses.


1 person likes this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 5, 2015 at 12:23 pm

When people refuse to resolve a problem that has been pointed out over a long period of time - and they stone wall a logical resolution to the problem then something else if going on. If illogical activity is in process then call it out. The something else that is going on is a combination of a number of illogical activities so what is up there?
It is right to ask questions.


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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 5, 2015 at 12:46 pm

@ Neighbor

We all want facts and truths. It is just very hard to obtain.


4 people like this
Posted by Len
a resident of Portola Valley
on Apr 6, 2015 at 9:33 am

Peter,

You write: "Studies of sediment transport in the watershed have shown that little, if any, of the fine sediment (clays and silt) that would be released downstream with suitable flows would accumulate in the channel and would be flushed to the Bay" Please provide the source citation.

See the below report and make sure you understand the difference between how fine sediment and course sediment may or may not settle out in the downstream channel. Add proper sediment management and flushing flows and you will see how fines can be flushed to the Bay without significant aggradation in the channel… as has been down at hundreds of dam removals recently (including those I told you to research earlier).

Web Link


You write: "The report was written in 1997 and reports don't "expire". " vs "That profile is also 20 years old and much more of the reservoir has filled in with sediment and been revegetated since 1995." You can't have it both ways.

Actually, yes you can. An earlier comment said the report had expired, which is not true. It is a seminal report on the watershed and sediment which is used as a foundation for all subsequent studies and updates. And yes, to counter your false claims of amount or sediment and vegetation area I point out that there has been significant sedimentation on top of the 1995 survey. I'm not sure why you don't think both of these above statements are accurate, they are.


You write: "This is also not a cross sectional profile to show latitudinal sedimentation and revegetation"
Yet that is exactly what you claimed earlier it was in your earlier posting. " Figure 14 shows very clearly how much of the Searsville Dam trapped sediment occurs above the elevation of the existing and original reservoir surface as it accumulates and backs up Corte Madera Creek thousands of feet from where the original reservoir elevation extended too. " Which are the true facts??

Please look up the difference between a longitudinal profile (running upstream and downstream) and a cross sectional / latitudinal profile (running perpendicular across the river channel). None of my statements above are wrong, you are just not understanding the terminology and situation at Searsville. You changed your first claims and made new false claims about the amount of sediment behind the dam based on the longitudinal profile I sent, so I pointed out that your reasoning was wrong because the profile only goes up one of the tributary streams to the reservoir and does not include additional massive sedimentation and vegetation occurring in the other tributary areas and sediment deposits.

I am done trying to communicate with you on this matter as you consistently ignore the facts, make unsubstantiated claims, try to scare people about trucking sediment without knowledge of the situation, and are clearly not reading the reports and referenced facts I have been sending you. I encourage you to become more educated about the Searsville and watershed situation before you put out your definitive (and inaccurate) statements.


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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 6, 2015 at 5:05 pm

@ Len

Either way there is 1,500,000 cubic yards of sediment to deal with. I doubt Fish & Game will let you flush that into the bay. Also, you have multi- million dollars homes all along the corridor,I doubt that will go over well with the home owners.Furthermore, how long will this semi- natural process take?


2 people like this
Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 6, 2015 at 5:26 pm

@ Len

I just did some brief research about the decommissioning of the Bull Run Hydroelectric project. Here is an interesting tidbit of info:

The primary issues addressed by the reviews were the impact on fish species (particularly salmonids), their habitat, and the effect of the release of 1 million cubic yards (750,000 cubic meters) of sediment on the river course.

Here is the web link Web Link

This off the info that you gave us. It is not very much fun getting shot at with your own ammo,is it!

Again, Good Luck!


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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 6, 2015 at 7:23 pm

Here is interesting info from the REGIONAL WATER QUALITY CONTROL BOARD SAN FRANCISCO BAY REGION. MINUTES OF THE MARCH 11, 2015 BOARD MEETING:

Item 4 ‐ Chairman’s, Board Members’, and Executive Officer’s Reports
Vice Chair McGrath discussed an event sponsored by the Bay Institute that he attended the
previous evening.  He also discussed the recent Chairs’ call and the February 19 Bay Area Flood
Protection Agencies Association’s annual meeting.  
Mr. Wolfe gave an overview of this month’s Executive Officer’s Report. He discussed the Bay
Area Flood Protection Agencies Association’s annual meeting.  He also described the Coastal
Hazards Adaptation Resiliency Group and its goal of designing projects to achieve multiple
benefits.  He gave an update on the status of the San Francisquito Flood Control Project and
noted that the project impacts included in the application were inaccurate and are being
revised.   Board Member Muller noted that he would be participating on the multi‐regional
wetland restoration committee’s conference call with the Executive Officer on Friday.   

So the original application was inaccurate and is being revised.
It looks like Bruce Wolfe is at it again.

Here is the link Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 7, 2015 at 11:53 am

Since we are waiting around here - for your reading pleasure go to "Tales of the San Francisco Peninsula". Theron Cady 1948. This is part of the San Mateo County Genealogy site.

The story of the town of Searsville unfolds as a booming (at the time) lumber town with hotel, gambling dens, houses, etc. The Spring Valley Water Company in 1887 bought the site and began to build the dam which eventually overcame the town. This was a large (at the time) effort with branches throughout the county of water connections.

In 1948 people were swimming, having fun at the lake.

Though mining is not mentioned here it did take place further down the peninsula in New Almaden - San Jose. Cinnabar is Mercury Sulfide which is used to process silver. It is a toxic material. This is now home to the Cinnabar Golf Course.

Draw a large circle around the lake with it as the center point. What is going above, below, and east and west. Many water feeders going into the lake.
If you uncover the silt you will find vestiges of the town - that should be very interesting.


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Posted by Len
a resident of Portola Valley
on Apr 7, 2015 at 3:14 pm

"Water Board" or should I say "Peter",

You'll see above that I have consistently said we do have to deal the sediment, and that there are multiple ways to go about that. Spelling out how sediment is managed was in response to Peter's false claims about how it would all need to be trucked away.

The current number is actually slightly over 2M cubic yards of sediment deposited behind the dam.

Fish and Game (now called the CA Fish and WIldlife) does not have a problem with releasing sediment from a dam removal project in order to restore habitat and access for listed species like steelhead. In fact CDFW has been a major funder of dam removal projects across the state. Furthermore, the Water Board is the primary state agency dealing with sediment issues like this and (as the article we are commenting on says!) they just sent Stanford a letter supporting dam removal and well-managed release of sediment. In addition, it is well known that fisheries and ecosystems benefit from dam removal projects and the sediment release is not a big issue as you imply, see link below:

Web Link

It is ironic that you cite the Bull Run and Sandy River dam removal project to try and point out the negative impacts of sediment on fish when this project, which includes the Marmot Dam removal is a celebrated fish restoration success story. See below quote and article:

"At Marmot, the sediment contained an equal mixture of sand and gravel. Once exposed to river action, it eroded out relatively quickly but sedately, with about half of it gone within 8 months. Researchers were surprised to find that the fish seemed little affected — the first curious salmon poked its nose back towards the former dam site within a day."

Web Link

So, you comment "It is not very much fun getting shot at with your own ammo,is it!" is pretty laughable…as is the fact that you are using the name "Water Board" to try and argue exactly the opposite point the Water Board is making, along with the science, related to Searsville Dam and sediment options.













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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 7, 2015 at 5:13 pm

@ len

There is a huge difference between The Bull Run Project and Searsville. Namely Silicon Valley is not rural Oregon. The Homeowners that will be effected by this project should not be taken lightly. By the way, thanks for the info, now we are dealing with 2,000,000 cubic yards of soil! Which could possibly be contaminated! The price keeps going up!


Again, Good Luck!


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 7, 2015 at 5:27 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

""Water Board" or should I say "Peter","

No, I never post using any name other than my own real name.

And if removing the dam was easy it would have been done years ago. Sometimes it is better to leave things as they are rather than create both predictable and unpredictable impacts by attempting to remove them - asbestos is a perfect example where more harm is done by removal than by careful retention.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 7, 2015 at 6:53 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Also note what the Water Board letters says - "We are supportive of giving consideration to sluicing sediment from the dam in lieu of, or in connection with, sediment excavation from the reservoir."


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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 7, 2015 at 7:28 pm

How will this project be funded?

Maybe we can get all the ex- Filoli Garden volunteers to do the excavation work.


2 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 7, 2015 at 7:49 pm

If you read the story of the town of Searsville it notes that they did not drink the water because it did not taste good. That is a CLUE. And that was in 1887. So where is the USGS and SU Earth Sciences Department - they should note the clues and investigate the mineral content of the area.

This problem exists all over the bay area - high mineral content is any specific area causes leakage when water hits it. There is a high sulfur content stream over at Mills college area in the Oakland Hills.

So what about the comment to just leave things as they are - seems like that is what has been happening for how many years now. So someone knows but is not telling. There is not just one problem here - but multiple problems. It is like a soap opera - can people make money televising the revelations of the Secrets of Searsville Lake.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 8, 2015 at 9:10 am

If you go to the Jasper Ridge site there is a report dated 2007 regarding this issue. This is not a new problem.

Suggest that the removal of silt proceeds in a gradual removal process taking off the top so that the silt is removed in stages vs. one giant effort. The recent silt should be good for fill and soil enhancement - possibly Lagunitas Lake which is in some strange holding pattern. Or soil enhancement over the hills which could use some enrichment.

At some point you will reach some remaining structures from the town of Searsville which should turn up interesting artifacts.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation and Nature Conservancy could be invited to offer up advice and services in support of this effort. If you find remnants of the town then you could get a good article in the Trust monthly magazine. The Nature Conservancy staff - local could provide support and advice on the on-going process. These people know what they are doing and could provide positive feedback for SU.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 8, 2015 at 10:02 am

In a short period SU and other property owners will be required to turn their earth / clear excess growth for fire protection requirements. That is a given. That would be a good time to add the silt so it is mixed in with the existing soil. There is a huge amount of property along 280 that will be required to be turned. That is a golden opportunity and a win-win situation.


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Posted by Len
a resident of Portola Valley
on Apr 10, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Water Board,

Amazing how you can just through "possibly contaminated" out there as a scare tactic. The Searsville sediment has been tested and determined clean. Please just research the issue a bit and you'll know about the correct amount of sediment and that dams are being removed all across the country upstream of urban areas and even from the center of large cities like Columbus Ohio for the benefit of ecosystems health, water quality, and to reduce flooding caused by the dams:

Web Link

Nobody is taking downstream flooding, or upstream flooding caused by the dam, lightly. Removing the dam eliminates the dam failure risk and current upstream flooding by the reservoir in the Family Farm community. Removal options, along with JPA proposed projects downstream, would actually reduce downstream flooding risk by eliminating undersized bridges and providing new off-stream high flow capture.


Peter,
Not sure why you are asking me to note that the Water Board letter includes mention of sluicing (or downstream sediment transport) along with excavation. I agree and pointed out that there are multiple options besides the only option you stated was required; trucking it away.




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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2015 at 7:32 pm

@ len

Again, who is going to pay for the $250,000,000 (yes, that is 1/4 billion dollars)
Project? Len, you sound like the developers trying to promote their gigantic glass boxes. The only difference between this project and one from a private developer as that they use their own money. At least they do not try to weasel it out of the taxpayers.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 8:43 pm

I see a bunch of people arguing about who is paying for what that have no direct responsibility for this project. It is on SU land - they have acknowledged the problem since 2007 and have not done the obvious - skim it off the top and relocate it on campus lands.

This is SU's problem and they are not lacking money to do the job. So why is everyone else arguing about the cost? Unless you are directly on the SU employee list for this project then why are you debating who is paying for what? You are an opinion only - except for SU and the Water Board - and it is not even clear if that is a valid person here.

It would be nice if the SU people directly responsible would issue a statement of their intent and get on with it.


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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2015 at 9:21 pm

@ Resident 1

You are absolutely right, it is on Stanford land, however it is a riparian corridor. That means it is under jurisdiction of state and federal law. If this project goes down,and it probably will, I guaranty SU will not pay for the whole project. That leaves the tax payers to foot the rest of the bill.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:09 pm

If this property is under the jurisdiction of the state and federal law than why isn't it done already? SU is holding this up - so why are they allowed to hold it up? Who is in charge here?

All of the write-ups indicate that SU is in charge. They should pay for it because they allowed this problem to escalate when they knew they had a problem - we all knew this was a problem way back in the giant storms we had in the prior times when people's homes were flooded.

This is beginning to look like a huge FEMA scam - have FEMA pay with SU.
How many Insurance companies are making money on flood insurance? The taxpayer is already paying flood insurance.


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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:24 pm



SU owns the land but not the water. That is State and Federal jurisdiction,hence, taxpayers problem.


2 people like this
Posted by HR
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 10, 2015 at 10:49 pm

Save the steelhead. What? Your going to have to do a lot more than tear out a dam if you really are concerned about rainbow trout that decide to go to sea. Maybe if all wells and irrigation was eliminated to bring back the water tables you might have a chance. Even then, if the flows are not there, the steelhead will go up another source. In the mid 1980's every coastal stream was closed to trout fishing to save the steelhead....well, it's been 30 years and nothing has changed. As a matter of fact, the steelhead numbers are dropping. Too many textbook biologists taught by textbook professors. You can free up all the habitat you want but if the water is not there, the fry will die come summer when people start pumping water out of the ground. The state is too crowded. If you want more people, fish will have to suffer.


2 people like this
Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 11, 2015 at 8:37 am

@ HR


Thanks for the valid information. Especially the part about; "too many textbook biologists taught by textbook professors."


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 11, 2015 at 10:06 am

Thank you for the info - If SU owns the land and the Fed/state owns the water then SU's strategy of letting the dam fill up with silt is to reduce the authority of the Fed/State. I think one of their strategies was to make this into a riparian plain - therefore no fed/state interference.

And since this water board person is consumed with the cost - taxpayers money - the water board is therefore complicit in this activity - using the taxpayer as the excuse for that decision.

Meanwhile we are all paying flood insurance - not a cheap amount- which offsets FEMA's cost if something goes wrong. And something always goes wrong. So the Fed/State will come into play when this all goes wrong - and it will be in excess of the amount to remove the dam and silt. It is a set-up for a major problem.

Is the Santa Clara Water District complicit in this activity? Based on what all of these people are being paid then the taxpayer really is at the bottom of the list of people they (SU, Fed/State, water board) are all concerned with.

Before Adobe Creek flood project was rebuilt many buildings in East Meadow Circle were flooded in a big rain. That costs people and companies. Now that is a safer flood control area. It was rebuilt in 1989.

I saw the opposite side of town in that big rain and it was very sad - a lot of repair had to go on.

Maybe we need a vote on this - San Mateo County and Santa Clara County that the taxpayers want this fixed. And the fed/state does have the money to pay for it in their risk mitigation budget.

Please note that risk mitigation is one of the highest paid jobs in companies so whoever is in charge of risk mitigation needs to start earning their money.


2 people like this
Posted by Len
a resident of Portola Valley
on Apr 11, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Water Board,

Making things up again I see…

First, how did you settle on making up the $250M price tag? I challenge you to try and show people here that you have an actual source for that estimate to carry out some specific action at Searsville.

Second, no one has ever said taxpayers would pay for this. Stanford was the first university in history to raise over $1B in a single year through donor gifts…. This project does not need to receive any taxpayer money. By the way, YOUR tax dollars are paying resource agency staff and lawyers to try and get Stanford to just comply with the law.
This is not a publicly owned dam. Stanford owns the dam, is liable for it, and is the sole entity on the hook to pay for a fix that meets State and Federal regulations. This is common water rights and dam owner knowledge. Again, you are making up inaccurate facts Water Board, just like your tag name.

Please look back at how many inaccurate statements you and Peter have made so far….it might be time to sit this one out.



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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 11, 2015 at 10:06 pm

@ Len

, Even if you can haul off 2,000,000 yards at $25 a cubic yard it is still $50,000,000,that is just offhaul. Ask anybody in the industry. $250,000,000 for the whole project, is a conservative estimate.Remember projects like these never end. That is why it is such a lucrative contract for which ever company wins the contract. Just ask Acterra.

If Stanford is willing to foot the whole bill, why has this not already happened?
This is why people in the area bring up the topic of possible contamination of the silt.

Like I said, "Good Luck!'


2 people like this
Posted by Len
a resident of Portola Valley
on Apr 12, 2015 at 12:44 pm

@Water Board,

You're still ignoring what I have said repeatedly above: sediment management tools with dam removal projects includes multiple options (removal, stabilization, and managed release downstream). Your ongoing perspective and argument that all sediment needs to be, or would be required to be, trucked away shows that you are ignoring what is being discussed at Searsville and what is happening at dam removal projects around the state and country. Trucking sediment away would likely be the least utilized options here (as with other similar projects) due to lack of polluted sediment, primarily fine sediment that can be safely flushed to the Bay, much of the 2M cubic yards already stabilized by existing roadkill, causeway, and mature vegetation, and that fact that Bay resource agencies want and need more sediment in the Bay for wetland restoration projects near the creek mouth.

Projects like these DO end… all the time. Please just research recent dam removal projects and see that they are carried out successfully and end.

Again, the sediment has been tested and is NOT contaminated.

The reason Stanford has not done this project yet is that they recently tried, unsuccessfully, to get a 50-hr permit to dredge the reservoir and not address the dam's negative impacts. This attempt was denied and Stanford was forced to, for the first time, look at a long-term solution for the dam that solve the many current environmental problems.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 12, 2015 at 12:58 pm

You all keep trying to hang this situation on money. Throughout the total bay area - all historic lakes and creeks are being rebuilt and nurtured by local organizations. I donate to most of these organizations. San Francisquito Creek is a historic creek as is Searsville Lake. It is the border between two counties and is the rationale for flood insurance based on it's history.

If SU is not promoting the restoration and maintenance of the lake and creek on their property then it should be donated to some organization that will do that job - Mid-Peninsula Open Space Trust, etc. SU can write this off as a donation so that is a tax advantage, and they can have a class in their Earth Sciences Department on Conservation Restoration and Maintenance. That is an important science at this time that can be used all over the world.

No organization should be allowed to let an important county / state asset go to waste and get destroyed. And the money is there so don't use that as an excuse. SU did not originally own this land - they bought it after the fact so any historic claim they have is simply based on buying the property.

It is hard to figure out who is who here - the spokesperson for SU is identified in the article.

Side note - I am a great fan of Tom Stienstra of the SF Chronicle. I would love to see the whole creek and lake featured in one of his articles as a local hiking and scenic location. Marin County is getting too much publicity for their gorgeous and well maintained trails, lakes, and scenic outlooks. Other areas work very hard on maintenance of their key areas - this is not rocket science.


1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 12, 2015 at 3:27 pm

@res1, "SU can write this off as a donation so that is a tax advantage"

Near as I can make out, the only money Stanford sends to the IRS is the federal withholding from their employees' paychecks. Would there be a tax advantage that I'm not aware of?

What I find even more confusing is why scholarship money or tuition waiver is not taxable income for the individuals who receive it, while people who actually work to put themselves through school are fully taxed six ways to Sunday.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 12, 2015 at 5:41 pm

Musical - as usual you are right on.


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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2015 at 10:41 pm

Oh Boy!

This is how I see it,

To make along story short:Stanford wants to flush all there silt (potentially contaminated)downstream. Then it needs to be dredged from the bay!And guess who gets to pay for that!

This is from your web link.





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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2015 at 10:45 pm

Here is the link:
Web Link


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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2015 at 10:51 pm

@ Len

So, who is going to pay for the dredging downstream?

It will be cheaper in the long run, to off haul the silt from the source.

Wow! you guys cease to amaze me!

GOOD LUCK!!!!


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 12, 2015 at 11:05 pm

The date on this report is 2001. SU is not allowed to flush this down the creek so it is dredged at the bottom. That means you are now ruining the bottom as well as the top part of the creek. It needs to be lifted in layers from the lake. They just do not want people on their property. And they want to see what is at the bottom with no interference.
I do not know who "water board" is but you need to get your legal staff working on this.


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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2015 at 11:06 pm

According to the study: a release of 1000 tons of silt per day?

Wow! That will be a lot of dredging downstream. Or a lot of flooding!

Good Luck!


































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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 13, 2015 at 6:48 am

The Army Corps of Engineers oversees the bottom of the bay as they re-engineering the Alviso area and water flow in the overall area based on the added development in the area. The 2001 report may have been valid when produced but not now. Forget it - not legal.

I think you are trying to sell this theory but no can do. The attention on the lower bay now is very intense. No illegal dumping. You should know that if you are a valid member of the SF Regional Water Quality Control Board.


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Posted by Len
a resident of Portola Valley
on Apr 13, 2015 at 12:08 pm

@Water Board,

You continue to ignore the facts and make things up.

- You state: "Stanford wants to flush all there silt (potentially contaminated)downstream. Then it needs to be dredged from the bay! And guess who gets to pay for that! This is from your web link." Show everybody here just one quote from Stanford that they want to flush silt. You cannot because they have not said that. Again, show one study or expert that suggests there is contaminated sediment behind the reservoir. You cannot because it/they don't exist. You clearly don't understand that the Feds and State are spending billions of the course of several decades to transform bay salt ponds into wetlands and are actively purchasing and dredging sediment from the Bay and elsewhere to carry out these restoration efforts; and USGS has stead that the Bay needs more suspended sediment (due to dams blocking it) in order for these wetland sot build up and survive sea level rise projections. Our tax dollars are already paying to acquire sediment for these projects! Letting sediment down the creek benefits these projects and can reduce cost to the taxpayers to implement them. You cite the report I sent as a reference to your false statements. Write back with one quote and page number from that report that supports your claims above. You can't.

- So now you seem to at least be acknowledging that silt can be released downstream to the Bay (as opposed to only trucking git all away), but as usual you add your scare tactic of this either resulting in dredging or flooding. Well, once again you miss the mark. No project will be approved that results in increased flooding downstream. IN fact, the JPA and other studies have already shown how this project can be carried out with onsite and downstream mitigation measures to increase flood protection downstream and eliminate the flooding caused by the dam upstream at Family Farm. For example, off-stream detention basins that capture peak flows have already been proposed and additional flood protection measures within the current reservoir site and historic ponds there have also been defined. Combined with planned downstream JPA removal of undersized bridges and increased channel capacity, the overall impact would be increased flood protection.

- Funny how you have no abandoned your claim that all sediment must be trucked away to making a misleading argument that removing the dam will result in all sediment being flushed downstream. If you read that report, you will see that it was testing a hypothetical situation and not the results of implementing the combined sediment management options of flushing, stabilization, and removal.

Please stop the misleading, scare tactics, and passive aggressive "Good Lucks" when you don't mean it. I'm done trying to have a conversation with someone that fails over and over to utilize and discuss the facts.



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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 16, 2015 at 7:51 pm

@ Len

It is clear that you are going to benefit greatly from this project.
Thank goodness, that most of the public can see right through your rhetoric.

By the way, if silt gets released there will have to be more dredging of the main channel that flows into the bay lands.


Again, Good Luck!


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 16, 2015 at 9:07 pm

I do not get what Len, Peter Carpenter, or Water Board has going on here.
I think some want to allow the silt to come down so that a part of the lower bay is filled in to expand the runway at the airport. The runway limits the traffic that is allowed at the airport.

So far I do not see anyone from SU in a position of authority who says what they are going to do.

I think you are all negotiating with each other but no clear authority to do so. When all is said and done a lot of people will get involved who are higher up the food chain on decisions concerning the bay.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 17, 2015 at 12:55 am

@res1, uh, interesting theory (airport) but I see no logic to support it. Were I looking for bay-fill conspiracies, I'd think about the developers wanting another Foster City.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 17, 2015 at 7:24 am

I am noting that the SJM today has a schedule for Santa Clara County Water District Flood Control Benefit Assessment Rates for Fiscal Year 2015 - 2016, May 16 at the headquarters, San Jose, 6:00 PM.

San Francisquito Creek is a registered flood control creek with a SCVWD project manager. It is time to get active with the water district concerning how the county is managing these creeks and how that cost is passed on to the county tax payers.

We keep going in circles here with al type opinions but nothing done here and the cost keeps going up. No - each little city does not get to micro-manage what is going on in their area - this is suppose to be well thought out plan so that the creeks are well managed and there is a corrective action if problems exist. Each of the creeks in the county affects many people.

Musical - note the activity in Redwood City regarding the Cargill site - if you saw that area during the king tides in January completely covered over with water. Yes they would have to dredge but that is really contaminated soil due to salt content and that is now illegal. Also, Redwood City is currently maxed out on its water allocation so no water available for that site - would need to be contracted for with complicated water trades.
RWC is the last deep water port in the bay.

Since we have San Mateo people here maybe consider at the 101 side in RWC a huge hotel / conference center with golf course, soccer fields, baseball diamonds, and aquatic park similar to Shoreline Park in Mountain View. It seems that Mountain View makes excellent choices on how they run their city.
They have big box stores, huge corporate presence, balanced by good use of bay land properties. The people who run Mountain View are very smart people.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 17, 2015 at 10:33 am

Extra note on RWC - they want to put in a ferry terminal but are running into problems with earthquake requirements - this would be a great place for commuters up to the city.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 17, 2015 at 10:56 am

Musical - you will note that there is a mound of low quality dirt at the golf course. It is just sitting there. So if the silt fills in the bottom of the bay - the area circling the airport - that creates the rationale - legal issue - to use that area. The mound is conveniently waiting to go on top. Of course it would need to be covered with concrete.
You have to look at the monkey mind that goes on out at the baylands. Purposely not building up the baylands eco center contributes to the underlying set-up for this type scenario.


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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 19, 2015 at 9:24 pm

The intended purpose of mound of dirt,stockpiled at the golf course, is to elevate the levee. Why the project is delayed, has yet to be answered.


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Posted by Cliff
a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2015 at 9:52 am

After reading most of the comments, I find myself thinking those comments by "water board" are narrow and not based on current facts concerning dam removal projects. He like SU has one major concern, money. Attitude like his is nearly impossible to deal with. To those who continue to entertain his musing, "Good Luck".
Looking fwd to the removal of Searsville Dam!


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 26, 2015 at 10:36 am

I think all of the comments about trucking the silt away is just a negotiation tactic to stall the project - which appears to be the intent of a number of people. Strangely - those people appear to have no direct responsibility for the SU project or the water district. So what is the point of their positions?

Skimming the silt off the top and reallocating it across the campus properties would work well - especially since there is so much building in process. There are extensive gardens all over SU that require constant refreshment of soil additives - what better than the silt?

The skimming need to start and work down so that any remnants of the Searsville town can emerge and be documented. Woodside has all types of historic places - we should be able to get to what is left and restore our historic little town.


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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 1:29 am

@ "Cliff"

We are not against dam removal, we are against making the taxpayers pay for these bureaucratic projects.Remember, there is still 2,000,000 cubic yards of silt to deal with.Hear is an Idea! Since you and your cronies are such favor of this project,sell your Eichler along with 99 other homeowners, that support this project and pay for it yourselves!

"Narrow minded attitude like hers is impossible to deal with,she thinks money grows on trees."

Again, Good luck with your dam removal!


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 27, 2015 at 8:34 am

How does the dam qualify as a bureaucratic project? The dam was built prior to SU - it was a town - Searsville - set up for logging and mining. The dam was built by the Spring Valley Water Project in support of the whole general area including what is now San Mateo. It is a historic remnant of a prior, historic time. Did the local government at the time qualify as a government agency?

SU bought the property so is the legal holder of the land - and by extension the dam. It is on SU's dime to successfully negotiate this transition of this dam with the fed/state agencies.

"Water board" is stuck on silt ownership - who owns the silt? I do not think the taxpayer owns the silt since the management of water ways and dams are well recognized requirements for land management. The Presidio just finished a project which included the total makeover of lakes and waterways on the property. SF is working similar problems on their Golden Gate Park. If you have water on the property you need to manage it. SU has chosen the wrong path for management of this dam.

You all need to address the problem of flood insurance - FEMA - and the householders who have to get flood insurance if they have a mortgage on the house. That is a giant industry in which the taxpayer is the great looser.
The government is also the great looser when a major flood comes and they have to come up with the money to help the insured homeowners. Are we just paying in money to FEMA in Silicon Valley so they can fund projects in other locations? That is in effect money laundering.

Sorry - "Water board" is not recognizing all of the elements of this problem. The downstream problems of flooding should be part of this discussion.


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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 8:50 am

@ Resident 1

"Sorry - "Water board" is not recognizing all of the elements of this problem. The downstream problems of flooding should be part of this discussion."

If you read between the lines, that is exactly one of the issues we are trying to address.


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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 9:00 am

@ Resident 1

"How does the dam qualify as a bureaucratic project?"

I guess you have not been following the Palo Alto golf course/ Levee fiasco, the projects are one and the same. Just ask Bruce Wolfe.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 27, 2015 at 9:25 am

I have been following this problem for a number of years.

WHO IS BRUCE WOLFE and what is his role in all on this? He apparently is the "bad guy". Who does he work for - who does he report to? Individuals do not walk around major projects with no backup.

What I am following is that you all are mired in SILT to the exclusion of discussion of anything else. All you talk about is silt and money.

As a negotiating tool what you do is establish all of the circumstances involved in this effort - then you assign a priority to the possible occurrence of the end result of any of the circumstances, and then you proceed to work the highest priority elements - it is called "Risk Mitigation".

As a homeowner I assign the cost of flood insurance - which I pay, FEMA's response to other disasters - not a very good record at this time due to lack of funds, and the rising tides which are a part of the equation. Those are BIG TICKET ITEMs. For all of the homeowners in PA, East PA, Menlo Park, etc that is more money the taxpayer is shelling out right now than the cost of "redistributing" silt.

You simply do not want to address that subject.


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Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 27, 2015 at 10:23 am

Maybe you should figure out who the "stakeholders" are here:
- SU - manager of silt - not good track record - ineffective
- Santa Clara Water District - where is the manager of the creek? Why isn't that person getting involved?
- City of Palo Alto - unclear - probably buffaloed by it all.
- The homeowners - tax payers who pay for flood insurance and FEMA -
excellent record for payment of flood insurance - part of the mortgage.
- FEMA - not a good track record
- Water District
Please do not use the "taxpayer" as the excuse for inaction - ask FEMA to fork over the money we have given them.
Bottom line is that the "taxpayer" who you keep calling out is already heavily in debt for flood insurance and clean up when things go wrong.


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Posted by Water Board
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 27, 2015 at 5:46 pm

@ resident 1

"Maybe you should figure out who the "stakeholders" are here:"

Stakeholders= Bureaucrats.

Again, Good Luck!


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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