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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

BART’s Babbling Brook

Posted By on Wed, Sep 17, 2008 at 5:28 PM

By John Geluardi

click to enlarge underground_creek.jpg

If you’re ever tired of the concrete, steel and glass that dominates San Francisco’s downtown, take in a refreshing, inner-city nature hike to the Powell Street BART Station. That’s right, you go all the way down to the train platform, stroll up to the western end and cock an ear up one of the two tunnels for the sound of gurgling freshness.

What you'll hear is the rushing of an underground creek that intersects with the BART line at Powell Street. Thousands of gallons of fresh spring water pass through a special culvert that prevents the station from being flooded.

The underground creek may be a branch or a tributary of the Hayes Valley River (it's really more like a natural aquifer than a river), which was discovered in the 1930s during construction of the now razed Fox Theater. The best guess at the underground river’s origin is around Post and Steiner streets. From there it flows through Hayes Valley and underneath City Hall and the Opera House before pooling somewhere around Market Street.

From there, runoff flows through several offshoots one of which may be the babbling brook that crosses the Powell Street Station. BART officials did not return calls to the SF Weekly with questions such as is the spring water potable? When to they plan to start bottling it? And, how will they market it… Spring Water, BART Tunnel Fresh…?

To your health!

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John Geluardi

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