Oakland’s Watersheds and Creeks.

Please click on the photos to enlarge and clarify them.

In anticipation of the upcoming Oakland Creek to Bay Day (September 19, 2015), I thought it might be interesting to learn about Oakland’s watersheds and creeks.

First, let’s start with some definitions. A ‘watershed’ is an area that separates waters, so they flow to different, larger bodies (e.g., to a larger creek, to the Bay). A ‘creek’ is a stream, brook or minor tributary.

I was surprised to learn how many creeks ran through Oakland. I found 21 creeks, not counting the smaller branches.

West Oakland is virtually devoid of creeks because it was originally established on a sand dune where water easily percolated into the porous soil. However, as the area was developed, water didn’t find its way into the soil as easily as it once did. As a result, there’s now a manmade watershed serving that area, called the West Oakland Watershed. The Ettie Street Pump Station handles the storm runoff in that watershed.

Oakland has eight distinct watersheds that deposit their waters directly into San Francisco Bay, the Oakland Estuary, or San Leandro Bay. Regardless of which local body of water our watersheds feed, the water ends up circulating into San Francisco Bay and, eventually, out through the Golden Gate into the Pacific Ocean.

A list of Oakland’s watersheds, along with the creeks that feed them, are shown below:

West Oakland Watershed (a.k.a., Ettie Street Pump Station Watershed). A manmade storm drain, culvert, and pump station system described above; feeds San Francisco Bay; includes the Broadway Branch of Glen Echo Creek.

West Oakland Bayshore Watershed. A small watershed adjacent to the West Oakland Watershed and San Francisco Bay. It drains into the marsh at the edge of the Bay, on the Oakland-Emeryville border.

Temescal Creek Watershed (feeds San Francisco Bay). Includes Temescal Creek, Harwood Creek, and Vicente Creek.

San Antonio Creek Watershed (feeds Oakland Estuary). Includes Glen Echo Creek (Cemetery Creek), Pleasant Valley Creek, Bushy Dell Creek, Wildwood Creek, Indian Gulch Creek (Trestle Glen Creek), Park Boulevard Creek, and 14th Avenue Creek.

Sausal Creek Watershed (feeds Oakland Estuary). Includes Sausal Creek, Shephard Creek, and Palo Colorado Creek.

East Creek Watershed (feeds San Leandro Bay). Includes the Berlin Branch, Curran Branch, Laguna Branch, and Harrington Avenue Branch of Peralta Creek; the Kingsland Branch of Seminary Creek; 54th Avenue Creek, and Courtland Creek.

Lion Creek Watershed (feeds San Leandro Bay). Includes Lion Creek, Horseshoe Creek, and Chimes Creek.

Arroyo Viejo Creek Watershed (feeds San Leandro Bay). Includes the Rifle Range Branch, Melrose Highlands Branch, Country Club Branch, and 73rd Avenue Branch of Arroyo Viejo Creek.

When trash and pollution get into any of our creeks, they either get deposited on the creeksides and shorelines or they slowly make their way into the Bay and, sooner or later, the Pacific Ocean. It’s essential that we keep these creeks and watersheds free of litter and other forms of water pollution, in order to protect our environment and the wildlife we share it with.


Oakland Creek to Bay Day, which is part of a much larger State and International effort to protect our water environment, represents a great opportunity for all of us to spend a couple of hours helping to improve the quality of our creeks, watersheds, and the environment at large.

Litter 4

Needless to say, if we would refrain from littering and dumping things into the creeks and watersheds, we wouldn’t need to spend so much effort cleaning them up. As Benjamin Franklin so adeptly put it more than 200 years ago, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ That saying still resonates like a bell today.

For more information about Oakland Creek to Bay Day, please see: http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/PWA/o/FE/s/ID/OAK024743 or


Keeping Oakland Beautiful is everybody’s business.

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