Creeks / Flood Control

My Experience

I was heavily involved in the Matadero-Barron Creek flood control project and that experience provides background for the ongoing problems with San Francisquito Creek.

Matadero-Barron Bypass Project

I became involved during the late stages of planning the portion of the project in Barron Park. The initial plan called for unacceptable amounts of construction traffic on the street I lived on. Presentations to the Planning Commission and to the City Council produced pressure on the Water District to revise these plans. Then, working with the Water District, we produced a plan that dramatically cut overall construction traffic - while reducing project costs - and thereby eliminating the major safety concerns.

I then served as a member of the liaison committee between the BPA (Barron Park Association) and the Water District.

Matadero-Barron Interim Fix

In 1997, the Water District discovered that there had been an error in the calculations and that additional construction was required. The Water District's original plan created high risk of flooding in Barron Park during a large storm.

I led the BPA's successful effort to get the Water District to adopt an unconventional solution based upon local knowledge that the water level in Barron Creek was typically already falling while Matadero Creek's was still rising. This solution (a flood gate) prevented flooding during the storm of February 1998 - flooding that would have occurred had the Water District's conventional scheme been implemented.

The BPA had established a good working relationship with the Water District, so, even though they knew we would oppose their (original) proposal, they arranged to meet with the BPA Board shortly before the public announcement, and worked with us in preparing for the public meetings.

Illustrates approach to such a problem, and the level of work.

Matadero Remediation Project

The permanent fix was to raise the walls of the culvert in the downstream area - the Midtown neighborhood. BPA Board members, led by me, used our experience to assist the leaders of the Midtown Residents Association (MRA) in their successful effort to tailor the project to be far less disruptive of the neighborhood and individual properties.


All three of the above involved strong, sustained pressure by residents to get the Water District to recognize special features of the situation and take an innovative approach. These innovative approaches not only were less disruptive of the community, but also were significantly cheaper than the conventional (cookie-cutter) approach. And as successful, innovative approaches, they produced recognition for the Water District and its staff among their peers.

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