Lester McKee's picture

Lester McKee, PhD

Senior Environmental Scientist
Clean Water Program
415-847-5095

Dr. McKee graduated with a BSc. in Geology from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand in 1993. He conducted his Ph.D. research at Southern Cross University, northern New South Wales, Australia, in the fields of hydrology and nutrient biogeochemistry. In 1997, Dr. McKee began work as a consultant in the Center for Coastal Management in Australia where he carried out management related field, laboratory, and desktop research for clients including local councils, Environment Protection Authority, Department of Land and Water Conservation, and the Brisbane River Management Group. In 2000, he joined the staff of SFEI as Director of the Watershed Program. In that role he manages a diverse group of highly motivated staff that conduct applied science projects and develop scientific information relevant to policy development and environmental management of the Bay and its local watersheds. Topics of study include hydrology, water quality, geomorphic processes, the distribution and quality of endangered species habitat, macroinvertebrate studies, resource mapping using geographic information systems (GIS), and historic stream, floodplain, and landscape form and function and change through time. Although Dr. McKee and his team get to look at watershed processes through a variety of scientific methodologies, he himself specializes in the design and implementation of scientific studies on the sources, transport, transformation, and loadings of sediments, nutrients and trace contaminants in Bay Area watersheds. For further information, interested parties should view Dr. McKee’s C.V. available on SFEI’s Web site or contact him directly for discussion.

Related Projects, News, and Events

Sediment for Survival report released (News)

SFEI worked with local, state, and federal science experts to develop the new Sediment for Survival report. The report provides a regional sediment strategy aimed at examining the future of sediment in the Bay and informing sediment management for the resilience of tidal marshes and tidal flats to climate change.

Sediment for Survival (Project)

The tidal marshes and tidal flats along the San Francisco Bay shoreline depend on sediment delivered by the tides. Healthy sediment supplies are essential for maintaining resilient marshes and tidal flats that can persist into the future and build up as sea level continues to rise. Currently, the sediment supply in the Bay is adequate to meet the sediment needed by tidal marshes and tidal flats. However, as sea level rise accelerates in the coming decades, the sediment needed for these habitats to survive will increase considerably.

Healthy Watersheds Resilient Baylands (Project)

Through the EPA-funded Healthy Watersheds Resilient Baylands project, SFEI and sixteen partner organizations are developing multi-benefit tools to enhance climate change resilience in San Francisco Bay. Healthy Watersheds Resilient Baylands has two major components: Multi-benefit Urban Greening and Tidal Wetlands Restoration. Through both components, we have developed strategies that inform  policy, planning, and design of innovative implementation projects.

“Towards a Coarse Sediment Strategy for the Bay Area” completed! (News)

The release of “Towards a Coarse Sediment Strategy for the Bay Area” represents a step forward towards beneficially reusing coarse flood control channel sediment by outlining reuse challenges, and identifying incentives for participation and potential solutions.

Preparing for the Storm (Project)

Preparing for the Storm is an innovative public-private partnership funded by the US EPA to improve watershed health and resilience in the Alameda Creek watershed.

RMP Update (Project)

The Regional Monitoring Program for Water Quality in San Francisco Bay is an innovative collaboration of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, the regulated discharger community, and the San Francisco Estuary Institute. It provides water quality regulators with the information they need to manage the Bay effectively. The Program issues a report each year, the Pulse of the Bay in odd years and the RMP Update in even years.

Alameda Creek Watershed Sediment Forum (Project)

Alameda Creek is the largest watershed in the Bay area draining approximately 650 square miles of the East Bay interior hills and valleys, including the Livermore-Amador and Sunol valleys. The creek then cuts through the East Bay Hills via Niles Canyon before flowing across its large alluvial fan and floodplain complex, ultimately discharging into the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay. Average annual rainfall in the watershed varies from 24 inches on Mt Hamilton at an elevation of 4,400 ft above sea level to 15 inches near the Bay margin in Fremont.

Small Tributaries Loading Strategy (Project)

The Small Tributaries Loading Strategy (STLS) is overseen by the Sources, Pathways, and Loadings Workgroup. It focuses on loadings from small tributaries (the rivers, creeks, and storm drains that enter the Bay downstream of Chipps Island), in coordination with the Municipal Regional Permit for Stormwater (MRP).

Russian River Watershed Projects at the San Francisco Estuary Institute (Project)

Our projects in the Russian River Watershed help us to understand our past, understand our present, and envision our future. Learn more about what SFEI is doing in partnership with others to advance our scientific understanding of this valuable landscape.

Load Monitoring in Representative Watersheds (Project)

Overview

There is an urgent need for estimates of stormwater loads by watershed and by region. The recently adopted Municipal Regional Permit (MRP) specifically requires generations of additional information on the loads of sediment and contaminants. In addition, the Mercury and PCB TMDLs require reductions in watershed loads by 50 and 90 percent, respectively. Understanding the loads from representative watersheds is critical for addressing these information needs and achieving these load reductions.

GreenPlan-IT (Project)

Green infrastructure (GI), such as permeable pavement, rain gardens, tree-well planters, or bioswales, can be used as cost-effective, resilient approaches to managing stormwater at its source while delivering environmental, social, and economic benefits for your community. GreenPlan-IT is a versatile open-source toolset that helps aid municipalities with their efforts to plan and evaluate the placement of green infrastructure in the landscape and track the effectiveness of these installations in reducing stormwater run-off, PCB, and mercury in receiving waters.

Investigating the future of sediment in the San Francisco Bay (News)

SFEI scientists are currently working with regional partners and science advisors to assess the future sediment supply to the Bay and how that compares to the sediment needed for baylands to survive sea-level rise. Currently, baylands (tidal marshes and mudflats) are receiving enough sediment to keep pace with sea-level rise. However, sea-level rise is expected to accelerate in the coming decades, which could cause baylands to drown unless they get more sediment.

Coyote Creek Watershed Historical Ecology Study (Project)

This report synthesizes historical evidence into a picture of how Coyote Creek looked and functioned before intensive modification. Prepared for the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the report helps explain contemporary landscape conditions and identify options for watershed restoration, natural flood protection, and integrated water management.

RMP Annual Meeting 2016 (Event)

The RMP Annual Meeting is held every year in the early fall. The meeting is an opportunity for RMP stakeholders to discuss current RMP projects and highlight interesting new research. 

Newly published study shows rain gardens can filter PCBs, metals — and microplastics (News)

A new study from SFEI assessing the ability of rain gardens to remove contaminants from urban stormwater has shown that nature-based filtration may also be a solution for microplastic pollution. This solution and others will be featured in a symposium on microplastics for scientists, policy makers, and change leaders in Berkeley on October 2nd.

SFEI's journal article on Green Stormwater Infrastructure featured as the Editor's Choice (News)

A team led by Dr. Jing Wu penned a paper in January on using Green Stormwater Infrastructure to protect the Bay from PCBs and other contaminants. "Optimal Selection and Placement of Green Infrastructure in Urban Watersheds for PCB Control" is now featured in the Editor’s Choice section of the Journal of Sustainable Water in the Built Environment for the American Society of Civil Engineers. 

Storm Flows Key to Managing Pollution in Highly Urban Watersheds (News)

Urban runoff is a large and potentially controllable source of pollutants for San Francisco Bay and urban centers around the world. SFEI scientists conducted intensive measurements for suspended sediments and a range of trace organic pollutants in dry weather and storm flow runoff from a fully urban watershed. More than 91% of the loads for every pollutant measured were transported during storm events, along with 87% of the total water discharge.

GreenPlan-IT Tracker Released to the public (News)

Municipalities across the state and beyond are carefully planning and implementing green infrastructure in their developed landscape to restore key aspects of the natural water cycle. Green infrastructure helps to achieve stormwater attenuation and contaminant filtration by increasing the pervious surfaces in often sophisticated ways.

Regional Watershed Spreadsheet Model (Project)

The Regional Watershed Spreadsheet Model (RWSM) was developed to estimate average annual regional and sub-regional scale loads for the San Francisco Bay Area. It is part of a class of deterministic empirical models based on the volume-concentration method.

RMP Journal Publication on Contaminant Loads from the Delta to San Francisco Bay (News)

Results of RMP monitoring of loads from the Delta to San Francisco Bay were recently published in the journal Water Environment Research. The article follows up on a paper published in 2009 in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry describing mercury concentrations and loads from this large river system to the Bay.