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76 STATE OF THE ESTUARY OVERVIEW • Current policy and upstream water management do not provide the Estuary the extra freshwater inflow that greater water use efficiency and reliance on locally sustainable sources could provide. People are both the most important driver of a healthy estuary and key recipients of its benefits. Human settlements have always been concentrated around the Estuary, because of the abundant estuarine food web and nav- igation options to the ocean or up the rivers. Most of us no longer eat from the Estuary, but it still processes the nutrients from our waste, provides flood protection to our shorelines, and offers natural areas for recreation. Many people also appreciate the natural heritage of native wildlife and beautiful vistas unique to the Estuary. Many indicators discussed here show the commit- ment of local people to sustaining a healthy estuary. However, these areas of environmental stewardship fail to encompass the greater set of management needs that will be required to achieve environmental health. The challenge of estuarine science in the future may be to fully communicate the choices ahead, so that citi- zens of local watersheds can decide if they want to invest Birdwatchers. Photo: Rick Lewis in the health of the Estuary. Sustainable water use requires greater cooperation and integration among our region’s water and land use managers, who have the power to shape the water footprint of new and existing development. • • There has been a steady increase in public access to the Bay since the late 1980s, when most regional trail projects were launched. of the est u f the est E o u TE of the est u he es tu SUPPORTING t f o E A T MATERIALS a ar S CISC O B AY & Processes TA Habitat RGB 110-230-115 Water RGB 13-119-225 Processes DE CISC O B AY & L WATER F L Chapter cover R A photo of kayakers: E D Galli Basson N & N N N Wildlife RGB 57-181-74 AN This chapter summarizes data and materials written by the authors listed on page 12 and provided in full in the technical ap- Habitat wildlife Processes People pendix for the State of the Estuary 2015 report. Go to: SA SA SA FR TA People The region is still overwhelmingly dependent on imported water from sensitive ecosystems and will need to make greater invest- L RA ments in water use efficiency to address F future demand & D E due to NCI SC O B AY population growth and population change. r T y y S TA AN y T ar The recycling of treated wastewater and T A the on-site re-use of gray water and rainwater are growing, but only offset a small portion — less than 5% — of the Bay Area’s total water demand. Thousands of volunteers regularly engage in activities that nurture, restore, WATER and improve the Estuary’s habitats, L wildlife, and shorelines. Many local L FR E DE non-profits like Save A N the I C S C Bay B O A Y and D & Acterra host regular volunteer restoration programs and workdays. TA TA In the last two years, the Bay Area has it can respond to persistent drought by reducing its urban water use more than 20%. Many Bay-Delta region cities and counties have passed their own plastic bag bans. Six out of 12 counties and 68 out of 119 cities now have ordinances. N FR N N AN r SA SA SA L DE CISC O B AY & demonstrated that FR TA y WildlifE Habitat Water use efficiency has increased in the region, resulting in a 40% de- crease in per-capita usage over the last 30 years. • • ar y The Estuary’s populace has demonstrated stronger stewardship by using less water despite a growing population. TA TE Currently, the San Francisco Bay Trail is 68% complete, with 341 of 500 planned miles on the ground. The Bay Area Ridge Trail is 65% complete, with 360 of 550 miles mapped. The Water Trail has designated 11 launch sites since 2011. The Delta Trail has designated 24.5 miles since the adop- he es tion of the 2010 Western t f o E T Region u t a Blueprint. TA TA r • S ua Landscape irrigation is the largest component of urban water use in the Bay Area. Significant potable water use reductions can be achieved with more climate–appropriate landscapes and the use of gray water and recy- cled wastewater for irrigation. S of the est S TE y • • • • • TA • S TAKE HOMES 2015 CISC O B AY