Sustainability Blog

By Ciaran Gallagher, CivicSpark Fellow

What will the high tide look like in 2050 considering the rising seas? Looking at GIS maps or making a visual estimate from a normal high tide is nothing like seeing the actual water inundation. When the moon is closest to the earth, it is called a supermoon and its gravitational pull creates high tides known as King Tides. These typically occur in December and January and give us a glimpse of what a normal high tide in 2050 will look like.

When the City of Hayward staff and CivicSpark fellows arrived at the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center at 10am on January 2nd, we could hardly imagine the water level reaching the San Francisco Bay Trail in just a few hours. The tides would have to rise more than a foot in less than two hours. The only indication this would happen was the water mark from the previous high tide, about 12 hours prior.

We gathered at the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center for the Hayward Area Shoreline Planning Agency (HASPA) meeting. After 90 minutes, the meeting adjourned and we all walked into the crisp brisk air on the Interpretive Center’s deck. We were shocked to find water completely covering the plants in the marsh that were visible just over an hour before. At this time, water was still flowing in from the Bay, slowly creeping up to the Bay Trail’s edge.

More Hayward City staff arrived with two drones in hand to capture aerial photographs of the inundated marshland. They were also able to measure the difference in water height between a normal high tide and the King tide by comparing aerial photographs of the two events. Add height measured.

Artistic signs were installed years ago on a piling of the Interpretive Center indicated the predicted normal high tide for 2050 and 2100. The King Tide reached and began to cover the 2050 mark. As we watched the water flow by, we began discussing how the building in front of us would flood if there was a combination of a storm surge, a King Tide event, and heavy rainfall. It just takes a one-time event lasting only a few hours to flood and cause significant damage to a building near the shoreline.

The King Tide in January 2017 completely covered the San Francisco Bay Trail in Hayward. Although this year’s King Tide did not flood the trail, due to other factors like barometric pressure, we could clearly see the vulnerability of the Hayward shoreline. Earlier in the day, HASPA had discussed progress on the Hayward Regional Shoreline Master Plan which will outline adaptation measures that can be taken to prepare for and mitigate against sea level rise. Watching the King Tide simply reinforced the necessity of this long-term adaptation plan.

HASPA will next meet on April 12th at 3pm at the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center.

Aerial photograph during the high point of the King Tide on January 2nd, 2018


Close-up aerial photograph of San Francisco Bay Trail and Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center



By Ciaran Gallagher, Civic Spark Fellow

Nothing brings out smiles from the Hayward community like four free bags of organic-certified compost. On Saturday, October 21, 2017, the City of Hayward Utilities and Environmental Services Department hosted another successful Compost Giveaway event. Collaboration with the Maintenance Service Department and Waste Management ensured the event went off without a hitch. This was the first time the Compost Giveaway was held in South Hayward, located at Tennyson High School, and many residents voiced appreciation for the location. It was one of the largest events yet with 550 households receiving four compost bags each. The free event occurs twice a year. 

The compost is made by Waste Management from yard trimmings and food waste, some of which is collected here in Hayward. The next Compost Giveaway event will be in the spring of 2018. Details will come soon to a garbage bill insert near you!

Maintenance Services employees loading compost bags into waiting cars

Utilities and Environmental Services employees checking in Hayward residents 

By Linda Grand Hayward CivicSpark Fellow

Oro Loma Sanitary District is experimenting with a new innovative project that uses local plants to clean wastewater and provide a barrier against sea level rise. I went with City of Hayward employees to learn more about this unique and experimental project.  As a CivicSpark AmeriCorps Fellow, I am working for the City of Hayward and the Hayward Area Shoreline Planning Agency (HASPA) to help the City plan for and adapt to inevitable sea level rise.  HASPA is a joint powers agency of representatives from the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District, East Bay Regional Park District, and the City of Hayward. Jason Warner, General Manager at the Oro Loma Sanitary District, gave HASPA members a tour of the new and innovative Oro Loma Ecotone project. This pilot project, a horizontal levee, uses vegetation on a slope to process wastewater from the treatment plant and can act as a barrier against flooding and sea level rise. 

Hayward’s shoreline is prone to sea level rise and the State’s latest report suggests that the Bay Area will experience 7.2 inches to 13.2 inches of sea level rise by 2050. This amount of sea level rise will increase the risk of flooding for adjacent shoreline properties and saltwater marshes in Hayward.  The King Tides of today will be the new normal of the future. To address this consequence of climate change, The City of Hayward will need to protect the shoreline by using a variety of adaptation methods. When protecting the shoreline, the City will have to consider the numerous stakeholders and assets, including critical tidal marshes, the Bay Trail, and nearby industrial buildings. The City is currently researching different adaptation possibilities, so we were very excited to learn more about the horizontal levee Ecotone pilot project because it uses natural elements to protect areas inland from sea level rise and flooding.

Not only does the Ecotone project look much nicer than a typical concrete levee, it also serves multiple purposes. Jason started the tour by pointing out the Wastewater Treatment Plant processes an average of 12.4 million gallons per day and serves around 46,000 households. We then started walking on a path where to the right you could see a freshwater wetland that is used for excess storage during the winter wet season. Jason explained that treated wastewater, right before the last step of disinfection, is pumped through this freshwater wetland to remove nitrogen and other nutrients that we do not want to enter the Bay.  

Next, the water is sent to the Ecotone slope that consists of dry native plants. The Ecotone slope consists of 70,000 natural plants in 12 beds that were planted by local volunteers. Oro Loma Sanitary District is working with UC Berkeley to research how well these native plants can remove nitrogen and traces of pharmaceuticals. Wastewater Treatment Plants are not typically designed to remove pharmaceuticals which makes this service by the wetland even more exciting. The experiment is divided into four different combinations of soil type, plant species and watering processes. Researchers are testing the water and soil to figure out what combination is most effective. Jason explained how these plants are working so well at removing nitrogen from the water that they are testing it to see if they can bypass the wetland upstream and just use this dry area for nutrient removal. This slope of native plants is not only making our water cleaner, but it may one day help lessen wave impacts associated with sea level rise. 

Oro Loma is setting an example with this ecological solution that helps treat wastewater and helps protect land from sea level rise. The Ecotone pilot project is currently being tested and monitored but there are still some kinks to work out before large-scale implementation of a horizontal levee. For example, more research must be done to see how we can incorporate tidal habitats along these natural slopes. In addition, Jason mentioned they are currently having trouble pumping large amounts of water into these wetlands. Engineers will have to develop better systems that allow more wastewater to be pumped to make this system more efficient.

 It is important to think about new and innovative ways the City of Hayward can adapt to sea level rise and hopefully, if the Ecotone project continues to be successful, horizontal levees will be part of that solution. HASPA and the City of Hayward are working on developing a plan to adapt to sea level rise and we really enjoyed learning about and touring the Ecotone project. 

If you are interested in seeing this project for yourself or want more information on the project you can visit the Oro Loma Sanitary District website.






By Bert Weiss, Hayward’s Utilities Operation and Maintenance Manager
Below is an abbreviated version – see the full Photo Journal here.
Read Questions & Answers about the project

In 2016 Hayward staff undertook a “first-in-Hayward-history” project to replace a leaking pipe that runs through the Winton Street Overpass. The fact that the project team kept smiling and simply took all of this work in stride speaks volumes about their character and devotion to the residents and businesses of Hayward, that we serve.

The Project Team

The beginning to the project was very unceremonious. Hayward’s 20 inch pipe in the Winton Street/880 overpass had developed a leak and needed to be replaced. The first challenge to overcome was how we would clean the interior of the structure.  The space was limited and the debris kept clogging the vacuum truck hose.  We finally resigned ourselves to having to go in and clean the interior by hand, with dustpans, foxtail brooms, and five gallon buckets. What compounded the challenge is that we had to make sure that none of the debris rained down on the 880 freeway below. 

Cleaning the Interior

After getting the okay to proceed with the project from Utilities and Environmental Services Director, Alex Ameri, we started to place the order for the parts in the last few months of 2015.  The EBAA Flex-Tends, above, were the longest lead time items.  These parts and pipe were hands down the largest that City staff had ever personal worked on.

The Pipes

Day one of the pipe replacement project was ushered in with the arrival of the heavy equipment. Unfortunately, we didn’t get far before encountering the first unexpected revelation.  There were large veins of pea gravel near the overpass structure.  It started to pour out of the sides of the trench walls and threatened to undermine the very busy West Winton.  We immediately had to backfill to prevent that from happening and shifted to Plan B.

Thanks to the expertise of United Trench Safety folks, “Plan B” effectively became driving ¾” steel plates into the ground with the excavator to keep the pea gravel in place thereby preventing the undermining of the very heavily traveled roadway. Staff then welded braces in place and the excavation process promptly resumed.

The next challenge was cutting the asphaltic coated, welded steel and mortar lined 20 inch pipe.  Things got smoky and dusty in the overpass and required the use of forced-air respirators.  This had to be done because the overpass end walls were formed around the pipe.  In order for us to remove the wire sawed concrete plug that surrounded the pipe, we had to cut the pipe in the interior of the overpass. The respirator equipment worked like a charm, as did the 4-1/2 inch mini-grinders equipped with A2Z cut-off wheels!


After a few very clean cuts, we were ready to pull the cut concrete plug ends out of the overpass. And then, out came the reinforced concrete cut sections as well as the first of the old 20 inch pipe.  It was exciting to see the old pipe getting pulled out of the overpass.  We were not sure how well the 50 year old roller supports would work but they did great, and the Deere 245 pulled the pipe out with ease. 

We now had to remove about 35 feet of AC (Asbestos Concrete) pipe so that we could create our new pipe loading pit, and to facilitate the pulling out the old pipe from the overpass structure. While properly shored and totally safe, it was obvious that we wouldn’t be able to work with all of the speed shore braces in the way. So, the folks at Untied Trench Safety, a Hayward business and community partner, delivered a shoring box that would allow us to have the space we needed to remove the old pipe and pull in the new.

Removing Pipe

We could now start pulling out and cutting longer segments of the old pipe.  The many months of planning were starting to pay dividends!

This is a good picture of the freeway below, as seen through the gap.  The pencil and glove are included for scale to show both the width of the gap and the roughness of the floor of the overpass.  That floor roughness would ultimately prove to be one of the bigger challenges that we had to overcome with this project.

Freeway below

It was time to install the massive TR Flex pulling head on an 18-1/2 foot long stick of pipe and see how some sample insulators would perform as they got dragged over a rough surface.  This head is very heavy, the pad-eye on the front of the head is made out of 3-1/2 inch thick steel plate.

This was technically the very first TR Flex joint that the crew had ever assembled.  It took about 15 minutes for everyone to wrap their heads around the design and to become complete proficient in the assembly process.

By this time, we had hand cleaned the overpass no fewer than 6 times.  Once the pipe was removed, however, there was nothing that would deflect any debris that feel through the seam on the ceiling of the overpass, from traveling through the gap in the floor between the two structures that made up the overpass until the new pipe was in place.  We elected to use the Aramark carpet runners to cover the gap.  The rental of these made sense because that way we wouldn’t end up buying a 300 foot long carpet runner, and then discarding by sending to a landfill. 

It was time to break ground on the east side.  The Deere 300 that was going to be used to pull the new pipe in the overpass made short work of the process.  We also applied all of the lessons learned from the west side experience, which made this excavation very straight forward. The east side receiving pit was dug in very short order. The shoring box got delivered and dropped into place. 

In virtually no time flat, staff was trimming some small protruding pieces of rebar…

Trimming rebar

…and we added a little temporary base rock backfill to retain the pea gravel until we could get the plates ordered for this side. It was a good thing that staff elected to lay out the rental carpet runners.  Once again, the pen and the glove are included for scale.  This is debris that could have fallen on the freeway traffic below.

Then, one day, we got word that our prototype pipe sleds were ready, and staff picked them up from RA Metal, in South San Francisco.  Staff waisted no time getting the sleds ready for their pull tests. When all was said and done, there was no visible wear to the runners and, while very warm, they could still be touched with a bare hand!

The next step was to deliver the prototype sled and pipe assembly to the overpass to see if it would work as planned there. Staff dragged the lifting chains into place, dropped the spreader beam that was needed to keep the chains away from the gap in the center, and hooked everything up for the test pull.  Everything was once again exceeding every ones’ wildest expectations, and the pipe was pulled through the overpass without incident.

The new sleds incorporated some minor design improvements, but substantially mirrored the prototypes’ design. About ten days later the fusion bonded epoxy sleds started to arrive. Staff wasted no time in bolting the sleds onto the pipe for the final test.  Our Director requested that the crew perform one final test pull of a three stick pipe train through the overpass to ensure that nothing changed when the pipe was pulled through as a train.

The lead stick of the pipe train was loaded into the loading pit.  This pipe would never come out of the overpass again.  Despite being pulled all the way through in the form of a three-stick train, that train would be pulled back to the loading pit, and from there the fourth stick, and fifth stick were added. 

The three-stick train got loaded, made a full pull without incident to the east, was pulled back to the west end, and then the permanent pipe install started. Everything was going exactly as planned.  The months of planning out every detail and revising the plans to accommodate existing conditions were paying off.

We are getting closer to home.  We could no longer see the traffic through the gap once the pipe passed the eastern manhole.  It was actually an odd feeling for the crew.  We had become very accustomed to moving freely through the very dynamic overpass.

And then one day the end was in sight.  The last part of the pipe in the overpass was pulled through. The west side (above), the east side (below).  The Deere 300 had made the full pull like a champ! The line was actually left pressurized over the 4th of July weekend, and when we returned, the pipe was still holding at 195 psi.  The pipe, obviously passed the pressure test with flying colors.

The final tie-in to the existing 30 inch lines were started after staff relieved the pressure in the line and drained the pipe.  The original 30 inch AC line was not exceptionally well aligned with the overpass, but that was not going be an issue because of the large gimbled ball ended and telescoping sleeve EBAA Flex Tends that were required by Caltrans on either side of the overpass. 

The new pipe

With a final check of the level on the flange of the tee, the east side of the project was tied in.  The pipe still needed to be wrapped in plastic to further reduce corrosion, the reinforced concrete plugs in the end of the overpass still needed to be restored, and the trench obviously still had to backfilled, but the piping work on the east side of the project was done!

Staff was justifiably proud of their monumental achievement.  Note, that on any given day there were only 3 to 5 people working on this project.  The City of Hayward, like most every other utility in the Bay Area, does not have “extra people” available to do this type of work.  The same staff still had to repair leaks and breaks in our 350 miles of distribution system, had hydrants to repair and replace, had new water services to install in the numerous developments, installed meters, tested backflow devices, read meters, responded to customer service calls, operated and maintained the tanks, pressure reducing stations, and pump stations of the system, and all of the other responsibilities associated with operating a distribution system in one of the larger cities in the SF Bay Area. 

Some might say that we really couldn’t afford to dedicate scarce human resources to a project like this, but in actuality, we can’t afford not to do the this type of work because the problem solving skills and professional development that projects like this offer are absolutely priceless.

A first-in-Hayward-history project

My name is Chris and I am Hayward’s 2016/7 CivicSpark Fellow. One of my responsibilities is to stay up to date on climate news. Here’s something new:

On November 10, 2016, U.S. District Court (of Oregon) Judge Ann Aiken ruled in favor of 21 young people who sued the federal government for allowing climate change to jeopardize their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property. 

The youth claim that the federal government has knowingly allowed the overuse of our country's resources. In particular, they argue that government sanctioning of fossil fuel development and its overuse has significantly altered the climate. They consider these activities to be unsustainable because future generations, including they themselves, will not be able to enjoy the same quality of life and climate which is enjoyed now if the overuse of earthly resources continues.  

Judge Aiken's ruling may have set in motion one of the most unprecedented court cases in American history. The youth lawsuit, Juliana v. United States, will continue on to higher courts with the potential for changing government action on climate change, regardless of who is president. 

Read about some of these young folks in this article, here, at
"The Kids Suing the Government Over Climate Change Are Our Best Hope Now".
Read Judge Aiken's ruling here. It's long so feel free to read the introduction (page 1) and the conclusion (page 51).

Be jolly this holiday season Hayward! The next generation of Americans would like to give you the gift of a healthy, livable climate. 

By Gilee Corral
Gilee and Jeff

Jeff Krump, the City of Hayward’s new Solid Waste Manager, invites me to tag along on his tour of one of Hayward’s recycling facilities. We’re greeted at the front window by a robot made of trash. It’s guarding a glass case displaying newspaper from the 1970s – recovered from a landfill where the facility is now located. The newspaper is browned but quite legible for being compacted in the earth for four decades. Some clever person has arranged the newsprint to display waste-related topics near the front of the case. The office is spotless and smells lightly of air freshener. I’m not sure what I expected – grungier perhaps, considering we are visiting a waste facility built over a landfill.

Trash from the 1970s

Our guides for the day are Vanessa Barberis, Public Sector Manager, Erika Solis, Construction & Demolition Diversion Manager, and Osvaldo Jauregui, Construction & Demolition MRF Manager. They fall into easy conversation with Jeff, their chatter peppered with intriguing acronyms and jargon: dirty merf (an unruly cousin of a Smurf?), dirty line, ballistic separators, bag openers. The “merf” word is used so often I reckon it must be important. It is, actually, MRF –for Materials Recovery Facility.
I’ve dressed as Jeff instructed – closed toed shoes, clothes I wouldn’t mind getting dusty. Jeff snaps the tag off his brand new florescent safety jacket and dons his new hardhat – I borrow some PPE (personal protection equipment, if you must know) from a row of hard hats and vests hanging in a line on the wall.

Erika leads us to a white van lined with immaculate floor mats. We pass the “Garden Center,” a corner of mulch. The Davis Street station sorts out grade A wood from its collections, sends it to TriCities in Fremont to be mulched, and the mulch gets returned to Davis Street, where it waits in neat piles for residents to purchase.

After the Garden Center is a building where green waste is dumped and loaded into transfer trucks. There’s an alley next to the facility that dips into a tunnel. The transfer trucks pull into the tunnel, and loaders dump the waste from above through a big window into the trucks below. I pop out for a quick photo of the mounds of pale green waste, scuffing the spotless floor mats with mud as I slide back in the van. It smells a bit like a barn, but more sour. Finally, this tour is starting to get messy!

Green Waste
This is where your green bin waste goes

The green waste gets sent to Blossom Valley Organics to be processed and returned to Davis Street as usable compost. Twice a year, the City of Hayward holds a Compost Giveaway where residents can pick up the good stuff for free. Onward, we pass an I Love Reuse corner, where residents can dump their cardboard, books, scrap metal, and mattresses be sorted and transferred to plants and get a second life as new products.

Next, the cardboard corner. Cardboard recovered from businesses and multifamily recycling bins get bundled up and taken directly to a port to be shipped to China! “Really, China?” I ask. We pause here for a mini discussion on macroeconomics and the effects of China’s growing middle class on the recovered cardboard market. As its middle class increases, China has begun to produce its own cardboard waste, inflating the Chinese domestic market for cardboard and shrinking the demand for foreign cardboard, such as the bundles I’m looking at in San Leandro, California. With China’s reduced demand, the cardboard has fewer places to go – our domestic paper mills have quietly disappeared, and now there’s not enough mills to accept our mounting piles of cardboard either. Thus, facilities like Davis Street have seen the demand for cardboard fall.

Cardboard Corners
Cardboard bundles, destination: China

On with the tour – we pass a pile of tires, awaiting a second chance at usefulness as road base, and stop in front of piles of what Erika calls “dirty wood.” Clean wood, or grade A, gets mulched, and dirty wood, or grade B, goes to biomass plants to be burned as fuel. Here we dip into economics once more, discussing the dwindling demand for grade B wood. As Jeff informs me, biomass plants began popping up in the 1970s, fueled by subsidies from the government, keen to create energy independence during the energy crisis. These subsidy contracts are starting to end and are not being renewed – thus fewer plants, thus less demand for the grade B wood.

Rounding the corner, the final destination of our tour and what I’ve been waiting for – the recycling facility! I’ve heard from Erika and Osvaldo of its many gadgets, bells, and whistles, and I’m ready to see it for myself.
What hits me first are two impressions – the mounds of junk and seagulls. I had this image in my head of individual piles of glass, paper, and so on, but these mounds on first glance look like haphazard piles of trash. But they are not trash, as I’ve been gently corrected a few times. It’s recycling, or green waste. They’re a bit sensitive to the “t” word, so I try not to use it. As we file out of the van, I brace myself for an olfactory onslaught. Smells like (sorry) trash, but not as strong as you would expect, considering I’m looking at roughly 3,000 tons of it.

Materials Recovery Facility, or MRF

At the MRF, we climb up a metal ladder and over a catwalk, a few stories high. The catwalk leads into a big room where some loud clanking and humming has started – the morning shift is back from their break and the foreman is cranking up the machines. Osvaldo leads us into the office, a room suspended above all the action, which he calls the “control room”. It looks like a tornado picked up an office and plopped it in the middle of a trash factory. Plush rolly chairs and computer screens, large windows where supervisors can oversee operations. Once Osvaldo shuts the door, the noise is muffled, but the vibrations from the machines hum under our feet through the metal floor. On one of the screens is a 3-D layout of the plant – Osvaldo shows us how sections of the digital plant light up in different colors depending on the status, i.e. red indicates a fault or required maintenance.

Osvaldo has been with Waste Management for over 20 years, starting out as a sorter and working his way up. He speaks proudly of his workforce – roughly 75% of whom are women, including the MRF’s foreman. We hear a bit about the workforce dynamics and trends that shaped his industry – how the waste sorting and other jobs were taken up by wives of construction workers many years ago, because waste jobs had benefits while construction work did not. As pay rates increased and benefits improved in recent years, Osvaldo has seen people – men and women – “lining up” for jobs at Waste Management.

The conversation shifts from workforce dynamics to management techniques. Plant workers do ergonomics to warm up before starting their shift. Erika tells us how she is incorporating Lean Management principles into production to increase plant efficiency. 

Waste Management staff sorting waste

Out of the control room and into the plant. Below us, metal claws are reaching into the huge piles of recycling material and loading clawfuls of it onto the conveyor belts. Above us, sprinklers spray fine mists of water over the piles to control dust. The streams of waste on the conveyer belts flow up the lines and into the plant, awaiting a maze of clanging machines, sorters, filters, and gloved hands. We climb up and down metal stairs, along rails, peek over metal walls, Osvaldo and Erika calling out explanations over the mechanized din. People and machines are hard at work sorting, shaking, shifting, and dropping waste into buckets and streams. Osvaldo points out the optical sorter – it scans the material and the computer program tells the machine what is plastic, paper, etc. Another machine is equipped with upside down magnets; as the waste stream passes through, the magnets pick up metal strips.

Crossing back across the catwalk, we take a minute to admire the construction site across the road, where a brand new MRF will open in 2018. This MRF, Osvaldo tells us with pride, will be “state of the art” and one-of-a-kind here in America, with equipment imported from Europe. “Now it’s turning out to be a mini-Disneyland of transfer stations,” Osvaldo says. I can only imagine what sort of Disneyland that will be!

Back in the City van, Jeff asks, “What did you think?”
A million images fly through my mind, but one sticks out the most.
“So many seagulls!” I add, “And it didn’t smell as bad as I thought it would.”
He chuckles. “That wasn’t a lot of seagulls. You should see the landfill!”
From the rooftop of a solar installation [hyperlink to previous blog] to a pile of trash (ahem, recovered waste) – you never know where an AmeriCorps fellowship will take you!