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Diablo Helianthella - by James Gaither

Diablo Helianthella - by James Gaither

Santa Clara Valley and East Bay Chapters have been working on the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s (SFPUC) Water System Improvement Project (WSIP).  The Calaveras Dam Replacement Project is one aspect of the larger WSIP program.  The Calaveras Dam project will have significant impacts on flora and vegetation in the Alameda watershed including almost 5 acres of wetlands, 13 acres of serpentine grasslands, and hundreds of oaks.  CNPS believes that the SFPUC has failed to provide reasonable or adequate mitigation for impacts caused by this project.  Notably, the SFPUC aims to mitigate for hundreds of inundated acres (lost habitat), by “protecting” lands it already owns and manages.  We believe this mitigation strategy sets up a poor precedent for future mitigation.

Here’s an introduction to our letter:

The Mount Hamilton area represents one of the most significant “last wild areas” of the Bay Area. CNPS has been studying and helping conserve this area for generations, starting with the Mt. Hamilton Flora which was first published by Helen Sharsmith in American Midland Naturalist in 1945. CNPS hopes that the SFPUC will be a force in preserving habitats of the Mount Hamilton area since preservation fits within the mission of the agency.

However, CNPS fails to understand how the SFPUC has met mitigation requirements for the proposed project by “protecting” land already owned and protected by the SFPUC. We believe that this DEIR is inadequate given the lack of specific mitigations and of details associated with how mitigations will be fulfilled.

Calaveras Dam DEIR Comments from CNPS

The Public Comment Period for the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project DEIR has been extended to December 21, 2009.

“The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has requested, and received, an extension to the public comment period for the Draft EIR for the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project from the San Francisco Planning Department. This is in response to requests received from other public agencies and the general public and the need to accommodate an additional public hearing for the project. ”  (source: SFPUC website)

EBCNPS is concerned that the EIR fails to properly report impacts to vegetation that will be inundated.  Since these vegetation impacts are not clearly defined, the mitigation measures are equally vague.  The failure of the analysis to be appropriately specific on impacts and mitigations brings into question the adequacy of this document.  Additionally, all habitat mitigations are materializing slowly, “to be completed within 5 years of the completion of the project”.  We believe all mitigations should be complete before construction is initiated.

Additionally, the reservoir expansion project will impact known populations of two CNPS 1B plants: Mt. Diablo helianthella and Most-beautiful jewelflower.  Additionally, fish resources and silverspot calippee habitat will be taken in this expansion project.  The below Figure 4.4.4 shows some of the impacted resources (reproduced from the EIR).

Fig 4-4-4 Rare Plant Occurences – Calaveras DEIR

Impacts to Steelhead (Alameda Creek Alliance)

Please let us know if you’d like to help analyze this project.


More information to come.

Calaveras Reservoir map from Google Earth

Comments are now due by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, December 21, 2009 to

  • Bill Wycko
  • Environmental Review Officer, San Francisco, Planning Department, 1650 Mission Street, Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94103
  • Fax written comments to 415-558-6409, or
  • Email written comments to
Calaveras Dam overhead photo by ATIS547

Calaveras Dam, photo by ATIS547

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) has released the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project.  This project will have potential impacts in the Alameda Creek watershed.

Public Comments on the document will be accepted by the San Francisco Planning Department October 6, 2009 to Friday November 20, 2009 at 5:00 p.m. For more information on how to submit comments, please see the Notice of Availability here.

The San Francisco Planning Department will hold two public hearings on this Draft EIR.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009, 6:30 p.m Fremont Main Library, 2400 Stevenson Blvd, Fremont at 6:30 p.m.


Thursday, November 12, 2009, Room 400, City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place,  San Francisco, CA 94102, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

    EIR documents :

    Calaveras Reservoir map from Google Earth

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