unlock Alameda Creek

Alameda County

Public Sediment


Public Sediment is a multidisciplinary design team that views sediment as a core building block of resilience in San Francisco Bay. The team is led by SCAPE Landscape Architecture with Arcadis, the Dredge Research Collaborative, TS Studio, the UC Davis Department of Human Ecology and Design, the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, and the Buoyant Ecologies Lab.

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Public Sediment continues to advocate for a stronger and safer Bay Area by investing in local ecological infrastructure. Sediment is key to their approach to the challenge - today’s lack of sediment flowing to the Bay jeopardizes the marshes and mudflats that protect shoreline neighborhoods from sea level rise and intense flooding.  The team will work with watershed communities to unlock the sediment flows of Alameda Creek, to the Bay and will utilize the next design phase to listen and learn from the insights of local residents, help imagine design approaches that better connect upland residents to the resources of the Bay, and ensure the solutions proposed in May of 2018 reflect community needs.


With a drainage area that spans Alameda and Santa Clara County, the Alameda Creek Watershed has been selected as a priority resilience site for the Bay Area Challenge.


Public Sediment believes the Baylands are protective infrastructure. Yet the Bay Area’s ecological infrastructure—its marshes, mudflats, and coastal edges—are at risk of being outpaced by sea level rise. The slow and methodical drowning of the Baylands, due to sediment scarcity and sea level rise, places hundreds of thousands of residents and the region’s critical drinking water, energy, and transportation systems at risk. To creatively adapt to this challenge, the team proposes to unlock the sediment flows of Alameda Creek to the Bay to regenerate its protective ecological infrastructure. Public Sediment will listen and learn from watershed communities and work to redesign the creek to more effectively deliver sediment, reconnect steelhead with their historic spawning grounds, and organize a water-based network of communities that physically connect to the Bay.


Alameda Creek is the largest sediment shed in the Bay. Though it has been dammed, rerouted, and channelized, it still contributes more sediment to the South Bay ecosystems than any other tributary. Yet its potential is far from realized - sediment is trapped behind multiple dams and in the channel itself, where it reduces flood protection and requires expensive dredging. Fish face many hurdles to migrating upstream and public use of the creek is limited.

Public Sediment proposes to Unlock Alameda Creek, working with the community to enhance sediment flows, create new access for fish, and expand public access between upland and lowland communities. By redesigning this waterbody to more effectively deliver sediment, mud will be able to move downstream and replenish the South Bay marshes and mudflats that buffer the impacts of sea level rise. By connecting the uplands and lowlands, the project organizes a water-based network of communities that benefit from the protective resources of the Bay.

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