A citizens group.
The San Pedro Creek Watershed Coalition arose from a convergence of concerns about and interest in the Creek by an array of citizens with many backgrounds. Long-time residents remember times when the creek abounded with Steelhead Trout and even Coho Salmon, the latter said to have populated these waters as recently as 1950. These citizens and the new arrivals in the suburbs that covered the valley bottom saw a dramatic increase in flooding; for many years, the creek's flooding problems have dominated the community's awareness of the stream. Related bank erosion problems have also plagued creek-side residents, and from these two concerns a flood control project, addressing problems in the lower-most reaches was completed.
Another concern, especially at the creek's outlet at Pacifica State Beach, has been water pollution. Water samples from the creek were tested at San Francisco’s Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant. The results showed that levels of total coliforms exceeded water quality maximums set by the San Mateo County health department 10-25% of the time, especially during winter rainstorms. Maximum coliform bacteria counts in the surf were eight times too high, with coliform levels up to 11 times higher than county Health Department limits near the mouth. The health department consequently posted the creek mouth as unsafe for human use.
Other citizens and scientists had been observing the expansion of invasive exotic plant species along the creek, even in San Pedro Valley County Park. Representatives from the park's volunteer group participated in community stewardship activities, attempting to eradicate some of the more invasive species, like Cape Ivy, from sections of the park. Park rangers contributed their knowledge of Steelhead spawning areas and known barriers to their migration within the park.
Starting in late 1998, these people came together to form a Watershed Coalition, bringing together agency representatives from the City of Pacifica, County Parks, the North Coast County Water District, the State Regional Water Quality Control Board, the US EPA and others, with scientists from nearby San Francisco State University and UC San Francisco, and devoted creekside residents. The Coalition with its inspired team of professionals and concerned citizens began to organize an extensive multi-disciplinary investigation of San Pedro Creek.
The collaborative efforts of technical professionals, landowners, residents, students, districts and agencies have been the key to current successes of the Coalition. This multi-disciplinary approach will also be important to implement the Assessment and Enhancement Plan. Although the San Pedro Creek Watershed Coalition in just one example of the many community-based watershed groups in existence today, their story is an example of the activities individuals are engaging in to protect and enhance their local watersheds. In January of 2001, the San Pedro Creek Watershed Coalition received 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization status.