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The Bay Area Creek Mouth Assessment Tool

Project URL link
Sponsoring Agency San Francisco Estuary Partnership
Subregions ('North Bay', 'East Bay', 'South Bay', 'West Bay')
Counties Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francsico, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma
Watershed Tributary San Francisco Bay
Public or private land? ('Public', 'Private')
Location (lat/lon) 37.84557924966549, -122.38838195800781
Start Date
End Date
Location Description San Francisco Bay's most significant creeks. Approximately 85 creeks. This project does not include the Delta.
The Bay Area Creek Mouth Assessment Tool

Create a user-friendly online tool designed to provide information about creek mouth restoration opportunities and constraints around the San Francisco Bay.

Create an online interactive tool to analyze opportunities and constraints for creek mouth restoration projects in the Bay Area. The Bay Area Creek Mouth Assessment Tool is based on extensive data collected and collated for the Creek Mouth Inventory and Assessment Project by the San Francisco Estuary Partnership and the San Francisco Estuary Institute. The tool will provide the means for agencies, organizations and the interested public to prioritize restoration projects on a regional or local level based on various criteria and objectives. The tool will also provide the context and database structure for other projects studying the Bay shoreline and its resilience to sea level rise.

Drinking Water Supply
Water Quality Improvement
Water Reuse/Recycling
Stormwater Improvements
Groundwater Benefits
Habitat Protection and Restoration
Flood Protection
The Bay Area Creek Mouth Assessment Tool will facilitate identification and implementation of habitat restoration and flood protection projects. Habitat Protection and Restoration: Creek mouths are at the interface of fluvial and tidal processes which will be heavily impacted by climate change. Protection and restoration of these creek mouth habitats will not only preserve or enhance current conditions but also provide support for Bay-wide effects of climate change. Strategically selected creek mouths for restoration and/or preservation is the first barrier against sea level rise and the resulting flooding events. Flood Protection: Tidal marshes and adjacent riparian habitats are natural means to slow and retain flood water, buffer storm surges, and thus add protection from flooding to the surrounding low-lying land.
The Bay Area Creek Mouth Assessment Tool will provide critical data to local governments and flood protection districts to identify opportunities for multi-benefit restoration efforts. The Tool combines land use data with historical and current ecological information to advance integrated water management and habitat restoration objectives.
This project creates the building blocks for a regional database to inform several other multi-benefit projects and partnerships including: Head-of-Tide (CIAP-BCDC-SFEI), Shoreline Change (SFEI-Estuary 2100), Flood Control 2.0 (SFEP, BCDC, SFEI, SFBJV and several local flood control district partners), and Flood Infrastructure Mapping and Website (DWR, BAFPAA, SFEI, SFEP). The project includes collaboration with multiple state and regional partners and local governments and special districts such as; the San Francisco Estuary Institute, the California Coastal Conservancy, San Francisco Bay Joint Venture, Marin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, etc.
Not at this time

Part 2 - Detail

The interface between tributaries and the Bay is one of the most ecologically important components of the Bay system. Historically, these were the Bay's natural deltas; places of high ecological diversity and complexity. Then, as now, they were critically important as reliable rearing habitat for juvenile steelhead. These locations play a disproportionately important role in the sustenance of the Bay's tidal marshlands, as the delivery points for watershed carbon and sediment. In addition, these areas are critical for flood management and face increasingly high flood risk because of climate change and the predicted increases in storm intensity, tidal surge and sea level. Restoring creek mouths to enhance or increase historical tidal and fluvial functions, can increase critical habitat for birds, wildlife and aquatic organisms and can while also reducing flood risk both along the shoreline and farther upstream.


In 2012, the San Francisco Estuary Partnership and the San Francisco Estuary Institute undertook a comprehensive regional inventory and assessment of creek mouths around the Bay. Once complete (in 2013), this inventory and assessment will advance the Bay Area's ability to better integrate riparian, tidal and subtidal restoration efforts for multiple benefits, including increasing ecological value and reducing human health and hazard risks from flooding. Building on the completed inventory, the Bay Area Creek Mouth Assessment Tool would provide an online interactive public interface for accessing the narrative and geospatial data collected for creeks around the San Francisco Bay. Providing access to the data in a user-friendly online interface allows agencies, organizations and others in the Bay Area to better understand the regional opportunities for creek mouth restoration and prioritize limited funding. Furthermore, providing important data on the present and historical ecology, hydrology and land use in and adjacent to the creek mouths will support and advance ongoing and proposed restoration and flood protection projects.


The Bay Area Creek Mouth Assessment Tool would provide access to both regional and local scale data on creek mouths.

At a the regional scale (the Bay Area) the Tool would include data on:

- Physical characteristics of the creek mouth: length, width, physical barriers

- Presence of invasive plants (Spartina)

- Presence (historic or current) of steelhead

- Local interested parties (“Friends of” groups, etc.)

- Contamination history

- Public/private land ownership profile

At the local, creek mouth, scale, the Tool would deploy precise geospatial layers, including:

- Adjacent restoration project boundaries

- Public/private land boundaries

- Public land ownership

- Levees

- Historical Ecology data


The Bay Area Creek Mouth Assessment Tool project would, where feasible and appropriate, integrate with other user tools such as SFEI’s Ecoatlas, the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture Tracker, and the Conservation Lands Network. The Tool will not duplicate other efforts, but will offer unique functionality. Opportunities to collaborate with regional and local partners to share data and develop compatible user interfaces will be pursued, and a strategy for collaborative and integrated data collection and management will be included in the project.
This is not an exhaustive list: Coyote Creek, Arroyo Corte Madera del Presidio, Ryan Creek + Sutton Manor Creek, San Clemente Creek, Corte Madera Creek, San Rafael Creek, San Pedro Creek, Gallinas Creek, Miller Creek, Novato Creek, Tolay Creek, Sonoma Creek, Southampton Creek, Sulphure Springs Creek, Mt. Diablo Creek, Walnut Creek, Payton Creek, Alhambra Creek, Bull Valley Creek, Elkhorn Creek, Edwards Creek, Canada del Cierbo Creek, Rodeo Creek, Refugio Creek, Pinole Creek, Garrity Creek, Rheem Creek, San Pablo Creek, Wildcat Creek, Baxter Creek, Fluvius Innominatus, Cerrito Creek, Codornices Creek, Schoolhouse Creek, Strawberry Creek, Potter/Derby Creeks, Temescal Creek, Glen Echo Creek, San Antonio Creek, Sausal Creek, Peralta Creek, Lion Creek, Elmhurst Creek, San Leandro Creek, Estudillo Canal, San Lorenzo Creek, Sulphur Creek, Mt. Eden Creek, Alvarado Creek, Alameda Creek Flood Control Channel, Plummer Creek, Coyote Creek, Stevens Creek, Permanente Creek, Adobe Creek, Matadero Creek, San Francisquito Creek, Redwood Creek, Cordilleras Creek, Pulgas Creek, Belmont Creek, Laurel Creek, San Mateo Creek, Poplar Creek, Burlingame Creek, Sanchez Creek, Easton Creek, Mills Creek, Millbrae Creek, Green Hills Creek, San Bruno Creek, Colma Creek, Yosemite Creek, Islais Creek Channel, Mission Creek, El Polin Creek.
Agencies and organizations charged with identifying and implementing critical flood protection and habitat restoration projects do not currently have access to data that allows an analysis of opportunities and constraints in the critical fluvial/tidal interface areas. This project solves the need to provide this important information in an easy to use interface to state and regional agencies, local governments and special districts, nonprofit organizations and the others interested in understanding the restoration opportunities and constraints for Bay Area creek mouths. Without an opportunity to develop the online tool, the extensive data already collected may not be available to all those who would benefit. Furthermore, if the Tool is not created, fewer critical multi-benefit flood protection and habitat restoration projects will be implemented, as the data to support such projects will not be readily available.

Creek mouths are transition zones where the defined channel meets the open water pelagic zone of the estuary, thus creating a unique ecotone. As sea levels rise, the creek mouths become vulnerable to increased flooding impacting low lying communities, drowning of marshland, and an upstream migration of head of tide, causing flooding upstream.


Prioritizing restoration opportunities is a fundamental step to increasing the resilience of the Bay shoreline, minimizing future flooding impacts, and planning for the long term health of the Bay’s marshes, creeks and communities.

i. Water Supply (conservation, recycled water, groundwater recharge, surface storage, etc.)


ii. Water Quality

One of the many ecosystem services that marshes provide is filtering runoff from the upstream creeks and urban areas, thus cleaning water before it runs into the Bay. The Tool will lead to additional creek mouth restoration projects that will improve water quality of the Bay.

iii. Flood and Stormwater Management

Prioritizing creek mouth restoration of marshes can have multiple benefits, and impact decisions made by flood control districts, stormwater managers and resource conservation districts.

                -protection from tidal flooding,

                -filtering and buffering of fluvial flooding

                -stormwater wetlands to detain water

Through an augmentation of restoration projects in the fluvial/tidal interface areas, the Bay Area Creek Mouth Assessment Tool will enhance flood and stormwater management.

iv. Resource Stewardship (watershed management, habitat protection and restoration, recreation, open space, etc.)

This project would provide guidance for strategic resource stewardship by prioritizing restoration using metrics such as presence of endangered species, public land and public access, and presence of a watershed stewardship group.

This project also fits into the goals of several resource agencies and non-profits working on bayland restoration and sea level rise. By creating a regional and public data center, efforts of data collection can be streamlined.

                -enhance ecosystem services or beneficial uses

Increases Water Supply Reliability
Advances/ Expands Conjunctive Management of Multiple Water Supply Sources
Increases Water Use and/or Reuse Efficiency
Provides Additional Water Supply
Promotes Water Quality Protection
Reduces Water Demand
Advances/Expands Water Recycling
Promotes Urban Runoff Reuse
Addresses Sea Level Rise
Addresses other Anticipated Climate Change Impact (e.g. through water management system modifications)
Improves Flood Control (e.g. through wetlands restoration, management, protection)
Promotes Habitat Protection
Establishes Migration Corridors
Re-establishes River-Floodplain Hydrologic Continuity
Re-introduces Anadromous Fish Populations to Upper Watersheds
Enhances and Protects Upper Watershed Forests and Meadow Systems
Other (Please Describe)
Increases Water Use Efficiency or Promotes Energy-Efficient Water Demand Reduction
Improves Water System Energy Efficiency
Advances/Expands Water Recycling
Promotes Urban Runoff Reuse
Promotes Use of Renewable Energy Sources
Contributes to Carbon Sequestration (e.g. through vegetation growth)
Other (Please Describe)
(low) - (high)
Drought Preparedness
Use and Reuse Water More Efficiently
Climate Change Response Actions (Adaptation to Climate Change, Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Reduce Energy Consumption)
Expand Environmental Stewardship
Practice Integrated Flood Management
Protect Surface and Groundwater Quality
Improve Tribal Water and Natural Resources
Ensure Equitable Distribution of Benefits
Reduce Reliance on the Bay-Delta
Reduce Water Demand
Improved Operational Efficiency and Transfers
Increase Water Supply
Improve Water Quality
Improve Flood Management
Practice Resources Stewardship
Other Strategies (Please Describe)
Groundwater Management Plan
Urban Water Management Plan
Water Meter Requirements
Groundwater Monitoring Requirements
AB 1420 Compliance
BMP Compliance
CEQA Compliance
Water supply reliability, water conservation and water use efficiency
Stormwater capture, storage, clean-up, treatment, and management
Removal of invasive non-native species, the creation and enhancement of wetlands, and the acquisition, protection, and restoration of open space and watershed lands
Non-point source pollution reduction, management and monitoring
Groundwater recharge and management projects
Contaminant and salt removal through reclamation, desalting, and other treatment technologies and conveyance of reclaimed water for distribution to users
Water banking, exchange, reclamation and improvement of water quality
Planning and implementation of multipurpose flood management programs
Watershed protection and management
Drinking water treatment and distribution
Ecosystem and fisheries restoration and protection
Reduced Reliance on the Bay-Delta
Projects that directly address a critical water quality or supply issue in a DAC
Urban water suppliers implementing certain BMPs as on page 17 of Guidelines
Be designed to manage stormwater runoff to reduce flood damage (PRC §5096.827)
Be consistent with the applicable Regional Water Quality Control Plans (Basin Plans) (PRC §5096.827)
Not be a part of the State Plan of Flood Control (SPFC) (PRC §5096.827)

The benefits of the project will be measured by the delivery of critical data to those charged with selecting and implementing creek mouth restoration projects. The tool will promote informed decision-making about restoration opportunities and constraints and facilitate multi-benefit habitat restoration and flood management projects. Over time, the resulting projects that are selected and implemented with the assistance of the Creek Mouth Assessment Tool will deliver the specific benefits listed above.

Project team

Part 3 - Benefits

BAIRWMP_creekmouthassessmenttool_section3.xlsx — ZIP archive, 178Kb