Channel Restoration

Atherton drainage channel

Addressing Atherton's unsightly drainage channels . . .

This image depicts a portion of a channeled creek along Watkins Avenue in Atherton.  The channel is fenced off and creates a terrible impression along an otherwise lovely avenue that runs from Middlefield to El Camino.  There was a time when public works project standards made building as unsightly a thing as this acceptable.  Nowadays, even the concept of channeling rainwater and dumping it into the bay is no longer seen as a wise way to solve the problem of rainwater run-off, when years of droughts and hundreds of private wells are working year round to deplete the natural aquifers that could be at healthy levels otherwise.

The channeling of rain water out to the bay may (though not necessarily) solve one problem—occasional flooding.  However, because the channel itself is not absorptive, during abnormally high rainy periods, the channels built for normal rain levels can still overflow and cause flooding.  Additionally, the use of cement channels perpetuates other, equally serious problems, including depletion of subterranean aquifers, when a more natural system of absorptive creeks and swell overflow areas could enable most all of the rainfall received in the area to be transferred to the aquifer for the community to have, during years of low rain fall.

Channeling rain water in cement channels poses substantial risks to small creatures and deprives our area of healthy native creek habitats to support a population of indigenous species that provide important biological services.  With so many good reasons not to channel rainwater out to the bay, the community's acceptance of the imposition of such eye-sores as this has greatly diminished.    The Atherton Conservation Trust is working to become a source of information, guidance and support to the Town of Atherton as it plans ways to invest funds to improve its public works projects.