Science

Enough Mud to Fill 670 Skyscrapers?

by | May 9, 2021

Graphic: SFEI

How much mud do we need to save Bay Area marshes from rising seas and how will we move it into position? If the future is drier there’s one answer, and if it’s wetter another (see chart), but the ballpark is 477,000,000 cubic yards. That’s the amount of sediment needed to sustain the ring of wetlands now protecting shoreline communities and infrastructure from a rising Bay, according to a new SF Estuary Institute report. Moving this much sediment into the right places–enough to fill the Sales Force skyscraper 670 times–will require the largest multi-decade public works project in the Bay Area’s history, says the Institute’s Warner Chabot. The report explores various nature-assisted methods of deploying the necessary material, ranging from spraying mud on the marsh surface and seeding it into the water column to placing it in the shallows near needy marshes. It also does a supply and demand breakdown, and reviews various sediment sources. Some, like dredged sediment now dumped at sea, are being wasted at a time when every grain is gold. Hard edges don’t have much flex when it comes to changing conditions, so climate-ready infrastructure needs to be softer and greener. Indeed, the local push to reinvent Bay Area shorelines defines exactly what Biden’s reimagined infrastructure for the 21st century is all about. Science-based solutions with an assist from nature.

Other Recent Posts

Seeking Friends for the End of the World

Could making friends with your neighbors be the secret to climate resilience? “All my homies are locally-sourced, non-GMO and gluten-free,” writes Maylin Tu of Los Angeles.

Refreshing Santa Clara County Rivers

Santa Clara’s National River Cleanup Day brought together 596 volunteers and resulted in over 25,000 pounds of trash collected. “It was one of the first times since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when we could actually organize group cleanups,” says Valley Water’s Nick Ingram

Chasing the Fireline

In California, climate change has has left a collection of wildfire hazard zone maps, published 15 years ago, out of date.

Cruising the San Pablo Spine: Video

Hop on a speeding bicycle with photographer Lonny Meyer as he travels the urban artery that is San Pablo Avenue and visits green infrastructure installations.

Overhauling Insurance for the New Normal

In the era of global warming, an invisible force, as primal as atmospheric chemistry, is coming to bear on human pocketbooks. Even if you don’t believe in climate change, insurance companies do.

Tears for Trees

I’ve watched an army of white trucks topped with cranes and chippers remove the oaks, redwoods, bays and manzanitas from around the power lines on our mountain in Napa. PG&E is felling a million trees per year and spending over a billion to do it.

National Toolkit Offers Steps & Metrics

The Resilience Metrics website is like a food-for-thought buffet for project planners. This toolkit offers a set of questions designed to get a project on track and to help participants measure performance.

About The Author

Ariel Rubissow Okamoto

is KneeDeep’s managing editor. She is a Bay Area environmental writer and editor and co-author of a Natural History of San Francisco Bay (UC Press 2011). For the last decade, she’s been reporting on innovations in climate adaptation on the bayshore (Bay Nature). She is also an occasional essayist for the San Francisco Chronicle. In other lives, she has been a vintner, soccer mom, and waitress. She lives in San Francisco close to the Bay with her architect husband Paul Okamoto.