During the holiday break, Professor Matthew Cover of Cal State Stanislaus joined Friends of the Creek, Chair, Steve Moore to sampled benthic macroinvertebrates (i.e., aquatic insects & other critters) from the stream bed on the Willow Grove site. The population of insects that live in streams indicate the level of water quality. If there is a lot of pollution or concrete channelization, the creatures that live in the stream are less pollution sensitive, like earthworms and midges. Conversely, if the water quality is free of pollutants and the creek banks and bed are natural and vegetated, more pollution sensitive creatures can thrive, such as mayflies and stoneflies.
Through sampling creek water they discovered that our Willow Creek has mayflies, stoneflies and prong-gilled mayflies. This means that the water quality is really high compared to other creeks in urban areas in the Bay Area and the state. This is wonderful news because it shows that the water in the creek is safe and clean, and worth protecting and restoring.
Since the headwaters of Willow Creek are in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (in the Rodeo Drive exit watershed), there is little disturbance of the water until it reaches Hwy 101 and the neighborhood and school. And it flows year round, a perennial stream even during the historic drought!
Having such high water quality means it is safe for our kids to play in the creek, but also that it would be a great idea to daylight the creek through the Willow Creek Academy school campus for educational and aesthetic reasons. Having the creek wind its way through the school will reinforce our identity as the Creek Academy and our belief in experiential learning. Green jobs of the future will center on maintaining our water resources, among other areas like clean energy and transportation. This learning tool is an asset so valuable, and yet so hidden.