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Matadero Creek dry-out puzzles residents

Original post made on Aug 16, 2012

For years, Matadero Creek in Palo Alto's Barron Park neighborhood flowed year round. But on June 27, the water level dropped by a foot, with sections of the creek suddenly turning bone dry. Residents and experts are speculating about the possible causes.

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Comments (7)

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Posted by duh
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 16, 2012 at 11:06 am

Global warming = drought = no water in the creek

Like this comment
Posted by qq
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 16, 2012 at 12:59 pm

This may have to do with the 101 work over Matadero Creek.

The creek east of the bridge is very high due to the tide gate problems described here yesterday. However, at the bridge new pipe is being installed for 101 and a large pump has been installed to drain water into the sewer system.

It can all be seen just north of the MSC on East Bayshore.

Could this also be why the Palo Alto creek monitor has been broken since April 27th?

Web Link

As a backup, NOAA has a new tide station on Coyote Creek. It is producing excellent tidal data for the south bay.

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by n0s
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 16, 2012 at 9:51 pm

the water levels in the baylands seem high too

Like this comment
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2012 at 3:31 am

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

FYI: The section of Matadero Creek discussed in this article is above El Camino, and is far, far above tidal influences.

Some additional factors: The development in this segment and above changed how the groundwater that feeds the creek was recharged. First, hardscapes (streets, driveways, roofs, ...) can divert rain water into storm drains, thereby preventing it from being absorbed. On the other hand, traditional landscape watering practices can add to the groundwater, and but this compensation could be lost as people switched to more "water-wise" practices. And ...

Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2012 at 10:39 am


Actually, the creek monitor does work:

Web Link

The one linked through "Public Works" works, but the one linked through "Public Safety" doesn't.

Go figure...

Another fine job from City IT

Like this comment
Posted by Doug Graham
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm

QQ Due to the natural slope of the land towards the bay, the creek drops about 50 feet between Laguna Avenue and the 101. Therefore, the 101 work could not have any effect in Barron Park.

Like this comment
Posted by Jessica
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 27, 2012 at 10:43 am

It's definitely a human controlled issue, not a natural result of global warming, water tables, what have you, as the level behind my house clearly is either "on" or "off." When the water dropped in June, it was very sudden, lasted a few days, then was back to "normal." (Where "normal" is the man-made normal level, not the natural level before human intervention.) There was another drop on August 17. Aug 16 am water levels were normal. I did not check Aug 16 pm. Aug 17 am the creek was empty (though water lines were still visible so the shut off had to have been relatively recent.) Aug 17 pm the water was back "on." This time it wasn't "off" long enough for the egrets to discover that the fish were easy pickings. The June shut-off caused quite a few fish to get stranded in small puddles and more herons and egrets came to visit than usual. But boy did things start smelling ripe after a couple of days. Even though the summer flow is non-natural, the local wildlife (not all native, I'm sure) has come to rely on it.

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