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Award recognizes Oro Loma and Castro Valley sanitary districts' horizontal levee demonstration project
Oro Loma Sanitary District and Castro Valley Sanitary District are joint recipients of a 2017 Bay Hero Award, which was presented to the sanitary districts’ boards by the San Francisco Bay Institute in recognition of their vision and response to sea level rise, as well as their efforts to innovate toward a sustainable solution.
“This is a great honor that is well deserved by our districts’ boards,” said Jason Warner, general manager of Oro Loma Sanitary District. “These individuals persevered through numerous obstacles to obtain the funding and collaboration needed to get the horizontal levee off the drawing board and make it a reality. We are extremely proud of their vision, and even more proud of what the horizontal levee means to our community and the shoreline.”
The horizontal levee project is the culmination of the board members’ and staff initiatives. The horizontal levee demonstration is a full-scale pilot of a sea level rise response that provides multiple benefits. These include flood protection, expansion of upland transition habitat (high ground during peak surge events), improved San Francisco Bay water quality, and lower costs compared to traditional sea barriers. It is located on the southern edge of the existing water pollution control facility jointly owned by the Oro Loma and Castro Valley sanitary districts. Instead of a vertical wall to protect against storm surges, a horizontal levee uses vegetation on a gentle slope to break waves. The native plants and wildlife that live on horizontal levees can thrive while helping to further process cleaned wastewater from treatment plants.
Now that the pilot is constructed, its operation and benefits are being studied by a research team from UC Berkeley led by civil and environmental engineering professor Dr. David L. Sedlak. The research will quantify the water quality benefits. The pilot also will serve to demonstrate the quality of the habitat created by the horizontal levee.
The Oro Loma and Castro Valley sanitary districts partnered to pay for the $9 million demonstration and equalization project. An Integrated Regional Water Management Program grant provided $2.1 million of the required funds.
The board members recognized include:
Oro Loma Sanitary District
Shelia Young, President
Castro Valley Sanitary District
Melody Appleton, President