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Guest Opinion -- Shadow Cliffs: A microcosm of California's water complexities

A look at the water levels at Shadow Cliffs Lake on Jan. 22, 2023. (Photo by Olivia Sanwong)

Growing up in Pleasanton in the 1980s, I felt fortunate to have a fun place like Shadow Cliffs in my hometown. Today I am driven by a sense of responsibility to ensure Shadow Cliffs remains a place for all to enjoy and cherish.

Olivia Sanwong, current EBRPD director and former Zone 7 director. (Contributed photo)

Shadow Cliffs Lake is an example of California's challenges in managing water resources. Our state is affected by long-term droughts and unpredictable weather patterns, making water management difficult.

Climate change has made this even more challenging, as historical models for forecasting are less reliable. As a result, there is a need for innovative and adaptive approaches to water management to ensure adequate water supply for California's population and economy.

The low water level at Shadow Cliffs Lake has served as a visible reminder of the severity of our recent drought. Californians were surprised to welcome the start of 2023 with a series of atmospheric rivers bringing heavy rains to the Bay Area, an amount of rainfall not seen in a three-week period since the 1860s.

This sudden change in weather caused confusion as to why the water level at Shadow Cliffs Lake did not rise immediately despite the heavy rainfall.

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Shadow Cliffs opened as a park in 1971 after Kaiser Industries donated the former gravel quarry to the East Bay Regional Park District. The quarry was turned into a lake, even though water does not naturally flow. The Zone 7 Water Agency manages the availability of water to transfer from the nearby Arroyo Del Valle into Shadow Cliffs Lake.

This agreement is a part of Zone 7's "Annual Report of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Program for the Livermore Valley Groundwater Basin". A review of the reports includes a note in the 2017 report describing the agreement as a "cooperative off-site recharge program" with EBRPD, with Shadow Cliffs Lake serving as a "spreading basin."

The 2021 report stated that Zone 7 could not provide any water for Shadow Cliffs Lake due to the severe drought. I anticipate the 2022 report will include a similar statement.

The Arroyo Del Valle is a part of the Alameda Creek Watershed, one of the largest watersheds in the San Francisco Bay Area. Zone 7 does not have sole decision-making authority regarding the water flowing through the Arroyo Del Valle, as California water laws govern water rights. For example, some water must remain in the arroyo for downstream flow throughout the watershed. As a result, under severe drought conditions, consultation with multiple stakeholders is necessary before stormwater can be approved to transfer into Shadow Cliffs Lake.

I am following Zone 7's proposed Chain of Lakes pipeline project as a potential solution for future water management. This project could be an innovative and adaptive approach to managing our local water resources. I plan to work with Zone 7 to explore the potential benefits of this pipeline and how it can help to ensure a more stable water supply for Shadow Cliffs Lake.

Today, Shadow Cliffs is popular for outdoor activities such as picnicking, hiking and birdwatching. The park features a new interpretive pavilion with an impressive 3D relief of the Alameda Creek Watershed area.

In fact, this past weekend, I had a great day at Shadow Cliffs! I started with lunch at the nearby BottleTaps Restaurant, walked to the connecting trail and then to Shadow Cliffs, where I continued to explore the area on foot. Shadow Cliffs is a great local option for those who want to experience nature in a beautiful and peaceful setting. I encourage people to visit Shadow Cliffs and enjoy its many recreational activities.

Editor's note: Olivia Sanwong serves on the East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors for Ward 5, which includes Shadow Cliffs in Pleasanton. She previously served for 4-1/2 years as an elected director for Zone 7 Water Agency. She said the opinions expressed are solely hers and do not reflect the views of any current or previous affiliations.

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Guest Opinion -- Shadow Cliffs: A microcosm of California's water complexities

by Olivia Sanwong /

Uploaded: Thu, Jan 26, 2023, 5:31 am

Growing up in Pleasanton in the 1980s, I felt fortunate to have a fun place like Shadow Cliffs in my hometown. Today I am driven by a sense of responsibility to ensure Shadow Cliffs remains a place for all to enjoy and cherish.

Shadow Cliffs Lake is an example of California's challenges in managing water resources. Our state is affected by long-term droughts and unpredictable weather patterns, making water management difficult.

Climate change has made this even more challenging, as historical models for forecasting are less reliable. As a result, there is a need for innovative and adaptive approaches to water management to ensure adequate water supply for California's population and economy.

The low water level at Shadow Cliffs Lake has served as a visible reminder of the severity of our recent drought. Californians were surprised to welcome the start of 2023 with a series of atmospheric rivers bringing heavy rains to the Bay Area, an amount of rainfall not seen in a three-week period since the 1860s.

This sudden change in weather caused confusion as to why the water level at Shadow Cliffs Lake did not rise immediately despite the heavy rainfall.

Shadow Cliffs opened as a park in 1971 after Kaiser Industries donated the former gravel quarry to the East Bay Regional Park District. The quarry was turned into a lake, even though water does not naturally flow. The Zone 7 Water Agency manages the availability of water to transfer from the nearby Arroyo Del Valle into Shadow Cliffs Lake.

This agreement is a part of Zone 7's "Annual Report of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Program for the Livermore Valley Groundwater Basin". A review of the reports includes a note in the 2017 report describing the agreement as a "cooperative off-site recharge program" with EBRPD, with Shadow Cliffs Lake serving as a "spreading basin."

The 2021 report stated that Zone 7 could not provide any water for Shadow Cliffs Lake due to the severe drought. I anticipate the 2022 report will include a similar statement.

The Arroyo Del Valle is a part of the Alameda Creek Watershed, one of the largest watersheds in the San Francisco Bay Area. Zone 7 does not have sole decision-making authority regarding the water flowing through the Arroyo Del Valle, as California water laws govern water rights. For example, some water must remain in the arroyo for downstream flow throughout the watershed. As a result, under severe drought conditions, consultation with multiple stakeholders is necessary before stormwater can be approved to transfer into Shadow Cliffs Lake.

I am following Zone 7's proposed Chain of Lakes pipeline project as a potential solution for future water management. This project could be an innovative and adaptive approach to managing our local water resources. I plan to work with Zone 7 to explore the potential benefits of this pipeline and how it can help to ensure a more stable water supply for Shadow Cliffs Lake.

Today, Shadow Cliffs is popular for outdoor activities such as picnicking, hiking and birdwatching. The park features a new interpretive pavilion with an impressive 3D relief of the Alameda Creek Watershed area.

In fact, this past weekend, I had a great day at Shadow Cliffs! I started with lunch at the nearby BottleTaps Restaurant, walked to the connecting trail and then to Shadow Cliffs, where I continued to explore the area on foot. Shadow Cliffs is a great local option for those who want to experience nature in a beautiful and peaceful setting. I encourage people to visit Shadow Cliffs and enjoy its many recreational activities.

Editor's note: Olivia Sanwong serves on the East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors for Ward 5, which includes Shadow Cliffs in Pleasanton. She previously served for 4-1/2 years as an elected director for Zone 7 Water Agency. She said the opinions expressed are solely hers and do not reflect the views of any current or previous affiliations.

Comments

resident
Registered user
Danbury Park
on Jan 26, 2023 at 7:12 am
resident, Danbury Park
Registered user
on Jan 26, 2023 at 7:12 am

Sure the water issues are impacting the lake and beach area but what about the grounds? EB Parks has let the park become an overgrown mess. Weeds everywhere, little to no maintenance happening. Del Valle is not much better. I have been going to del valle for over 20 years. It used to be a jewel of the east bay, now its full of toxic algae along with the poor upkeep and decimation of the fishing there due to invasive Striped bass being pumped in from delta. I stopped using EB parks facilities even though they are so close to me. Go to a few East Bay MUD lakes to see the differences and how a park system works when managed well.


resident
Registered user
Danbury Park
on Jan 26, 2023 at 7:14 am
resident, Danbury Park
Registered user
on Jan 26, 2023 at 7:14 am

one more item:
"Today, Shadow Cliffs is popular for outdoor activities such as picnicking, hiking and birdwatching. The park features a new interpretive pavilion with an impressive 3D relief of the Alameda Creek Watershed area"

no , its not popular... it used to be years back but no, not popular at all.


Mike Bobosky
Registered user
Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 2, 2023 at 1:19 pm
Mike Bobosky, Vintage Hills Elementary School
Registered user
on Mar 2, 2023 at 1:19 pm

RE Shadow Cliffs.
I have been going since it was made a park in the early 70's and before.
Because of the drought conditions we have cant be an excuse. This lake was filled with patrons year after year for many years.
I have never seen this lake in 40 + years down 12+ feet?
There is not a single dock or ramp anywhere near the water.
I get it with the "aquifers" being low, but you cant fill them by rushing water through our area.
If Del Valle can fill in 1 month for storage, why cant Shadow Cliffs get a foot.
The Arroyo is higher than I have ever seen it, rushing water just a few feet below all the overpasses that get it to the 680 freeway wash.

At Shadow cliffs NOBODY is going there.....
Maybe some dog walkers. No picnics, no swimmers, no kids, no bikers. Nobody at the new pavilion?
No fisherman, there are no fish??
A bunch of unused rental boats?
Gotta be yearly insurance?
I would guess the budget for maintenance has not gone down for Shadow cliffs??
HA
What do the workers have to say about the current state of the park?

The park district has to be completely upside down here at Shadow Cliffs.
What happened with the EARPD surplus we had a few years back?
More importantly, what is in the 2023 plan?


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