A water control structure at the former salt pond near Alviso was officially opened Wednesday, enabling managers to open 1,400 acres of former salt ponds to tidal action.
The gates at the former industrial salt pond, known as Pond A8, were opened at about 10:20 a.m. at a celebration event held by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Coastal Conservancy.
The opening of the water control gates will allow tidal water from Alviso Slough to reconnect to the waters of the open pond, the first step in transforming the pond into a salt marsh and habitat for species such as the small prey fish, threatened species of salmonids and sturgeon, pelicans, cormorants, ducks, the endangered California clapper rail and other wildlife.
The opening of the gates will also increase the flood flow capacity of the Alviso Slough.
The project is part of the first phase of the larger South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, the largest tidal wetland restoration effort on the West Coast to restore more than 15,000 acres of industrial salt ponds into a wetland ecosystem for people as well as resident birds, fish and other species that rely on the wetlands for nesting and resting.
The South Bay Salt Ponds were purchased in 2003 and since then, 2,280 acres of wetland habitats have been restored and three new miles of trails for wildlife-oriented recreation have been opened in the South Bay.
Funding for the project was provided by a number of agencies, including $1.25 million from the State Water Resources Control Board, $1 million from the Santa Clara Valley Water District, and a $900,000 grant administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.