Calabazas and San Tomas Creek Realignment Vision

Sunnyvale, California, the United States

Calabazas Creek and San Tomas Aquino Creek drain parts of Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, and other cities, into the Bay. The creeks were realigned in the mid 20th century to make sharp 90° turns at the Pond A8 levee, where they are diverted into a slough. SFEI worked with the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, and team of science advisors to develop a science-based vision for this site. This vision provides a suite of measures that benefit both flood management and bayland habitat restoration under a changing climate. The proposed creek-bayland reconnection that is central to the vision would allow sediment delivery to help facilitate tidal marsh restoration, create a pathway for marsh migration with sea-level rise, reduce the risk of landfill erosion and associated water quality impacts, and improve ecosystem functioning and resilience through the creation of estuarine-terrestrial transition zones. Upon implementation of the vision, Calabazas and San Tomas Aquino creeks could be the first creeks in San Francisco Bay to be realigned to discharge directly into their historical tidal marshlands— a case study that could be used to inform future reconnection projects in similar landscapes around the Bay and guide responsive policies to climate change challenges.

Learn more about this project here.

Key Elements: Patch Size, Habitat Diversity, Native Vegetation