The design proposal for the Islais Creek Watershed is largely focused on designs for water. Presently 60.3 million gallons of drinking water per day enters San Francisco via the Hetch Hetchy aqueduct, crossing three major seismic faults and at high risk of damage by fire. The Southeast Wastewater Treatment Facility, located at the mouth of Islais Creek, treats 85% of all San Francisco’s wastewater. The combined sewer system, conveying both stormwater and sewage can be overwhelmed by minor rain events, resulting in flooding and combined sewer overflows, and will increasingly be affected by storm surge, high tides, and sea level rise. The historic creek path is frequently subject to flooding. This design proposal reduces flood risk, localizes water supply, stormwater management and reduces volume entering the wastewater system, thereby reducing the reliance on the treatment plant. The team’s proposal also seeks to create local systems for distributed energy and food production.
 

Household Scale

We propose  a phased implementation of several interventions at the household scale  including composting toilets, onsite greywater treatment, rainwater harvesting cisterns, micro-power grids, bioswales, food forests, and rain gardens. The team would collaborate with local communities and government agencies to learn more about their individual and collective needs in order to inform and refine designs and programs. Precedents for this can be found in Los Angeles where the work of Tree People has proven through six test pilot residential sites to be able to develop water supply for emergency water for up to 1.2 million people for 35 days using smart cistern systems at the household scale. We would build on their work with active participation collaborating with San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). Through home scale intervention we aim to achieve broad adoption of decentralization of energy, water, and food infrastructures.
 

Public Lands Scale

In this proposal we target schools, parks and libraries to be retrofit to serve as resilience hubs. Expanding upon the programs at the household scale, the emphasis is on capturing/storing rainwater and energy for an emergency response. The entire network would be set up so all residents of the watershed are within walking distance from these nodes. These civic institutions could serve as heating/cooling centers and resource dispensaries during disasters to provide supplies and information while educating local people about climate change, natural and social ecosystems, and resiliency to cope with disaster.
 

Watershed Scale – Making Space for Water

A more ambitious plan will grow out of these efforts to daylight Islais Creek along its course in areas such as Alemany Farmers Market, taking fuller advantage of it as a public space and allowing space for flooding under the freeway and along strategic locations along the flow path. As the sea level rises, inundated properties can be strategically acquired to be returned to marshland.

Our strategy is one of abandonment to create space for the water. This space will be multi-purpose floodable recreation and wetland area that can also provide many opportunities for mariculture and other food production.

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The Language of Water

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P+SET

P+SET (Permaculture plus Social Equity) is a collaboration comprised of individuals and firms passionate about community-led design that provides beneficial outcomes for people and planet. P+SET composes with rather than imposes upon, because we believe that designing with community is indispensable to any design’s vitality and success. We also design as members of this particular community, as our team includes longtime locals who are deeply familiar with the social and ecological challenges our communities face.

Placemaking—connecting people to places where they live to create mutual...

P+SET (Permaculture plus Social Equity) is a collaboration comprised of individuals and firms passionate about community-led design that provides beneficial outcomes for people and planet. P+SET composes with rather than imposes upon, because we believe that designing with community is indispensable to any design’s vitality and success. We also design as members of this particular community, as our team includes longtime locals who are deeply familiar with the social and ecological challenges our communities face.

Placemaking—connecting people to places where they live to create mutual interdependent relationships amongst residents and the environment—is the cornerstone of our work. We have decades of experience engaging communities in assessment, ideation, and implementation, based on rigorous scientific and site-specific analysis. From this we generate practical, implementable, pattern-based approaches to resilience that emphasize egalitarian ownership and respond to local needs while enhancing ecosystem performance. Resilience emerges from public ownership of and engagement with productive commons, constructed to meet the needs of people and technically designed to optimize ecosystem function. We believe permaculture design can be used to present a novel vision for regionally replicable resilience blueprints, with place-based implementation possibilities that support social equity, inclusion, productive landscape partnerships and generative human material economy.

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