Publication Date: Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Baylands cleanup will tackle Cargill salt pond this summer

By Marion Softky
Almanac Staff Writer

By the time it finishes cleaning up Menlo Park baylands contaminated by 60 years of trap and skeet shooting, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission will have removed 77,200 cubic yards of dirt at a cost of $20 million. Then the land will need to be restored to be healthy for fish and wildlife.

PUC General Manager Pat Martel reported to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors March 2 on the progress of its Baylands Recovery Project. It is cleaning up the marsh and salt pond peppered with lead shot, shattered clay pigeons, and shell casings by the Peninsula Sportsmen's Club from 1969 to 1994.

"The risk to human health is minimal, but there's a possible threat to wildlife," she said.

The club, which operated on some 40 acres leased from the San Francisco Water Department, was closed down in 1994 by the state Regional Water Quality Control Board, and told to clean up. The club promptly went bankrupt, and the San Francisco PUC is fixing the mess.

The property is traversed by two of the main pipelines carrying water from the Sierra, across the Bay, to serve San Francisco and the Peninsula.

Since 2000, work crews have torn down the club's buildings and been scraping the land. For several weeks this spring, dump trucks will carry some 5,000 cubic yards of stockpiled dirt across the Dumbarton Bridge to landfill sites in the Central Valley, said PUC planner Maureen Barry.

During the coming two summers, workers will remove some 66,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil from the Cargill salt pond and levee just north of the site.

The PUC has involved the community in planning the project, and has hired more than half its workers from Project Build at OICW, the Menlo Park job-training center, Ms. Martel reported. "We've developed a neat partnership with OICW. We've hired and trained local workers."

Ms. Martel plans to involve the community in similar ways when the PUC starts its next major project to strengthen its aging water system.

"We've received no complaints to date on this project," she said. "We will do the same when we rebuild the water system."