Friends of Orinda Creek Score Big

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(Shawn Kumagai, Photographer)
(L-R) Orinda Chamber of Commerce Vice President Juliet Don, Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan and Friends of Orinda Creeks President Bob Stoops are happy to receive the State of California Build Back Boldly check for the downtown San Pablo Creek enhancement work.

    Mayor Amy Worth, in a Nov. 5 ceremony with Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, received a check for $125,000 designated for the San Pablo Creek Pedestrian Trail from the Friends of Orinda Creek (FOC).
    It was a win-win for the city and the Friends of Orinda Creek (FOC) when Bauer Kahan’s request for a grant for creek restoration and a trail was approved.
    The road to the grant began a couple years ago when FOC approached Bauer Kahan and pitched the restoration of San Pablo Creek through the downtown section of the Village.
    Sharon McGinnis Girdlestone, an Orinda business owner, could not contain her excitement.
    “Yay for RBK, as well as Mayor Worth, City staff and Friends of Orinda Creek, for keeping this vision of a restored creek alive,” she said. “Downtown San Pablo Creek was put in a concrete straight jacket in 1958. The channel blew out in a storm a few years later, and the creek was left with broken concrete, eroding banks and loss of flood protection.”
    Now that funds have come through, restoration work can begin on the 275 linear feet section of San Pablo Creek, which lies directly behind the Vintage Office Building. The County owns this section and supports restoration.  
    According to Dr. Bruce McGurk, Certified Professional Hydrologist and a member of the FOC Board, this would consist of the following:
    1. Providing flood control by removal of the concrete slabs to prevent potential blockage of the downstream culvert in a severe storm.
    2. Making a wall to support the steep bank below Camino Pablo Road.
    3. Removing the concrete slabs and installing three “step pools” to prevent sheet pile, undermining erosion and form natural pools for aquatic life.
    McGurk added, “Our effort is to improve access and function of the creek. A natural stabilization of the creek channel will allow free water flow without erosion.”
    Cinda MacKinnon, founder of FOC, gave background information about the organization, “When I moved to Orinda 29 years ago, I noticed there was a degraded creek running through the otherwise nice downtown, and people didn’t even know it was there,” she said. “I thought, ‘What a shame.’ My background is hydrology and I was interested in creek restoration.”
    Encouraged by the East Bay Municipal District (EBMUD), she founded Friends of Orinda Creek in 1993, with meetings held in the old Orinda Library.
    “In those days, City engineers considered the creek a drainage ditch,” she said. “Things have changed at the City level, and FOC has attracted a highly talented group, jump-starting this dream of a restored babbling brook running through the village.”

Bobbie Dodson can be reached at bobbiedodson109@gmail.com.

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