Construction Work Begins on New Alameda Creek Watershed Center in Sunol

Construction work has begun on the SFPUC’s Alameda Creek Watershed Center in Sunol, which will raise awareness of the natural and cultural history of the Alameda Creek Watershed and the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System.

Located next to the Sunol Water Temple in the East Bay at the historic confluence of two creeks, the Alameda Creek Watershed Center will explore the interaction of people and nature and the significance of water in sustaining both. The location of the center is the ancestral home of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe.

The SFPUC and the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe began a multi-year partnership on the pre-excavation, study, and careful preservation of archaeological finds from the Watershed Center area. The lessons of what has been discovered there, and replicas of some of the more than 13,000 artifacts that have been found will be reflected in the Watershed Center exhibits and education programs.

A proposed site map of the new Alameda Creek Watershed Center in Sunol.

The center will have indoor and outdoor features, including an exhibit hall with an 8,000-gallon stream profile aquarium, a watershed discovery lab to host school programs, a community room, a watershed discovery trail that mimics the flora of the Alameda Creek Watershed, semi-immersive history alcoves, and the restoration of the picnic area nestled under sycamores along the creek. It will also include an outdoor art installation designed by Walter Kitundu, a nationally-celebrated artist and MacArthur Fellowship recipient. Kitundu’s proposed design, titled Ruupaywa, pays tribute to the Alameda Creek Watershed and the historical and contemporary Muwekma Ohlone people. The eagle is a significant figure in the creation story of the Muwekma Ohlone people, and the Alameda Creek Watershed is one of the nation’s top nesting sites for Golden Eagles.

Pre-construction activities began in March 2020, but were temporarily put on hold due to public health orders related to the coronavirus pandemic. Construction activities re-started on May 11th after Bay Area Health officers loosened restrictions on construction activities. Crews on site follow strict safety measures to protect the health of our workers and the public. Construction of the center is scheduled for completion in March 2022.

A rendering of the front entrance of the new Alameda Creek Watershed Center in Sunol.

The SFPUC owns approximately 38,000 acres of the Alameda Creek Watershed, which includes lands in both Alameda and Santa Clara Counties. These lands contain two drinking water reservoirs — San Antonio Reservoir to the north and Calaveras Reservoir to the south. Calaveras Reservoir is the largest of the SFPUC’s five Bay Area reservoirs, which, when combined with groundwater, collectively account for 15 percent of the agency’s total supply. Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in the Sierra Nevada provides roughly 85 percent of the SFPUC’s water supply.

The SFPUC has been working with community partners on these efforts for decades, which were formalized in our Community Benefits and Water Enterprise Environmental Stewardship policies. These initiatives shape how the SFPUC provides water, power and sewer services while ensuring the work positively impacts the communities it serves.

A rendering of the Sunol Water Temple.