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

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.

State of the Estuary Conference on Twitter (Event)

In an event convened by the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, SFEI contributed its own intellectual labor to the State of the Estuary Conference. Letitia Grenier served as the lead scientist for the State of the Estuary Report, unveiled at the gathering, and SFEI's scientists and technologists were featured prominently in the program on subjects ranging from nutrients to landscape resilience to green infrastructure to data and tools. By all measures, it was a successful conference.

GreenPlan-IT Phase II nears completion (News)

SFEI has completed development of Phase II of our GreenPlan-IT application -- a toolset to empower municipalities to plan, assess, track, and report their green infrastructure investments. This helps restore the water cycle and improve filtration of water quality contaminants. In the latest round of implementation work, we collaborated with the cities of Richmond, Oakland, Sunnyvale, and the county of Contra Costa to meet their green infrastructure planning and reporting needs, while also providing needed enhancements to the toolset in response to user feedback.

Photo Credits: Micha Salomon (L), Dee Shea Himes (R)

Healthy Watersheds Resilient Baylands (Project)

The Healthy Watersheds Resilient Baylands project will enhance resilience to climate change through the implementation of several multi-benefit environmental projects by the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, SFEI, and 15 other organizations. The project has two major components: Multi-benefit Urban Greening and Tidal Wetlands Restoration. Through both components, we are developing science-based strategies that inform the design of innovative implementation projects.

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.

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.

Photo credit: Kingmond Young

Flood Control 2.0 Wins an Outstanding Environmental Project Award! (News)

The Flood Control 2.0 project team was presented with an Outstanding Environmental Project Award at the 13th Biennial State of the Estuary Conference in Oakland, CA. The award is given by the Friends of the San Francisco Estuary to projects that benefit the San Francisco-Bay Delta Estuary and its watersheds.

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.

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. 

Graphic by Lester McKee, Ph.D.

New Manuscript on Pollutants in the Guadalupe River Addresses Key Questions (News)

Guadalupe River is contaminated with mercury mining wastes from runoff associated with the historic New Almaden Mining District in the upper watershed that produced 40 million kilograms during its working life (1850-1975) and with PCB and other urban pollutants from a long history of urbanization and industrial land uses.

SFEI has been monitoring pollutant concentrations in the Guadalupe River during winter storms since October 2002. The result is one of the world’s most extensive data sets on mercury, PCBs, and other pollutant concentrations and loads in an urban river.  In a recent manuscript, SFEI staff used the dataset to answer three major questions.

Flood Control 2.0 Completed! (News)

SFEI and several agency partners recently completed a multi-year, EPA funded project called Flood Control 2.0. The goal of the project was to develop information that is useful for integrating habitat restoration into flood management at the Bay edge. Project outputs are now available at floodcontrol.sfei.org.

GreenPlan-IT Site Locator Tool v2.1 Update (News)

SFEI’s GreenPlan-IT is a planning level toolkit which help municipalities with green infrastructure planning, assessment and reporting. Green infrastructure is a multi benefit tool that helps to restore the natural water cycle of infiltration and filtration (most notably of mercury and PCBs) within the urban environment.

Hacienda Avenue Bio-Infiltration Basins (Project)

The Hacienda Avenue Green Street Project in Campbell, California, reconstructed 1.4 km of public right of way along W. Hacienda Avenue from Winchester Boulevard to Burrows Road. In collaboration with the City of Campbell and the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, scientists from SFEI installed monitoring equipment in two adjacent basins to measure how the basins infiltrated water over the course of a rainy season. This award-winning project infiltrated 100% of the stormwater flowing into it during the rainy season of 2015-2016.

GreenPlan-IT Toolbox evolving quickly to meet increased demand (News)

With the conclusion of the first round of funding for the Green Plan Bay Area project http://www.sfestuary.org/our-projects/water-quality-improvement/greenplanning/, SFEI produced GreenPlan-IT in collaboration with SFEP, a technical advisory committee, pilot partners, and BASMAA. GreenPlan-IT is an innovative planning tool to help municipalities evaluate multiple management alternatives for green infrastructure in the urban landscape.

GreenPlan-IT featured in the newsletter of the National Water Quality Monitoring Council (News)

GreenPlan-IT, a toolset created in a collaboration with SFEP, US EPA, and local partners, has been featured in the newsletter of the National Water Quality Monitoring Council, which has in turn been distributed broadly to subscribers throughout the nation and beyond.

RMP Keys to Success Highlighted in Two Manuscripts (News)

RMP Keys to Success Highlighted in Two Manuscripts

Flood Control 2.0 (Project)

Flood Control 2.0 is an ambitious regional effort aimed at helping restore stream and wetland habitats, water quality, and shoreline resilience around San Francisco Bay. The project leverages local resources from several forward-looking flood control agencies to redesign major flood control channels so that they provide both future flood conveyance and ecological benefit under a changing climate. This timely project will develop a set of innovative approaches for bringing environmental benefits and cost-savings to flood protection efforts at the mouths of creeks that drain to San Francisco Bay.

How Creeks Meet the Bay: Current Sediment Dynamics (News)

The transition zones between our watersheds and the Bay are often occupied by flood control channels that provide a variety of societal and environmental services but can require sediment removal to maintain flood conveyance capacity. The causes of sedimentation problems in these channels are often complex, driven in large part by a combination of high watershed sediment yield and excess tidal sediment accumulation due to decreased tidal scour.

GreenPlan-IT Tracker helps municipalities to track and measure effectiveness for their investments in Green Infrastructure (News)

Working in partnership primarily with the City of Richmond and the County of Contra Costa County, SFEI is developing a new GreenPlan-IT Tracker. The new tool comprises another module within the GreenPlan-IT Toolbox which, along with its three other modules, helps to plan, assess, optimize, and track municipal efforts to reduce stormwater run-off and reduce pollutant loads to the Bay.