In 1974, MVSD created Moorhen Marsh, the first wetlands on the west coast dependent solely on treated effluents as its primary water source. The 21-acre constructed wetland saved the District’s rate payers millions of dollars by avoiding the construction of a deep-water outfall to transport MVSD’s treated wastewater to the Carquinez Strait, all while creating critical habitat for wildlife. Native wildlife species dependent on the wetland for habitat include the western pond turtle, North American river otter, mink, North American beaver, and many species of birds.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, where most freshwater wetlands have been lost, Moorhen Marsh is a shining example of a community success story. It provides important open space in a heavily industrialized area, while also offering educational opportunities for over 1600 elementary, secondary, and college students every year. Birders, photographers, hikers and families also enjoy Moorhen Marsh. Moorhen Marsh also functions in the treatment process by reducing ammonia as the effluent travels through the wetland before flowing into Peyton Slough and eventually out to the Carquinez Strait.
Moorhen Marsh is completely dependent on MVSD’s advanced secondarily treated effluent for its water. Without the approximately 1.2 million gallons of effluent provided by MVSD’s treatment plant every day, this historic marsh would cease to exist. The marsh is currently open to the public by appointment only during business hours: Monday – Thursday, 7:00 am – 3:30 pm. There is no access on the weekends or during observed holidays except on scheduled public tours or by special arrangements with the Public Outreach Coordinator.
For a bird checklist for Moorhen and McNabney marshes, click here.
For an aerial map of the marsh, click here.
Click here to access the draft documents for the Management Plan