Year: 2019

SFEI hiring hydrologist or water resources systems analyst

San Francisco Estuary Institute is seeking an experienced Hydrologist or Water Resources Systems Analyst to join the Institute and lead a growing focus area related to watershed hydrology and water resources management. The hydrologist will play a leadership role in coordinating and integrating hydrologic science and modeling across SFEI programs and implementing projects to inform Bay Area and statewide decisions regarding watershed and urban hydrology, urban greening, stormwater management, water quality, habitat restoration, and climate change.

Visit for more details and to apply.

15th Annual Berkeley River Restoration Symposium

Save the date for the 15th Annual Berkeley River Restoration Symposium! This will include a keynote talk, presentation of graduate student research in river restoration, and discussion by expert panel. Our keynote speakers this year will be:

Hervé Piégay – ‘Revitalizing rivers: learning from the European experience?’

Damion Ciotti – ‘Process-Based Design Criteria for Ecological Restoration’

More details to come.

AGU Session: Managing multifunctional watersheds for the 21st century

Join us at American Geophysical Union (AGU) fall meeting in the session “Managing multifunctional watersheds for the 21st century‘ (Session # GC052). Organized by Rafael Schmidt (RiverLab alum), P. James Dennedy-Frank, and Dr. Kondolf, this session will tackle the increasing demand for watershed services and capacity of green-grey solutions to meet this demand. We invite submissions to this session that showcase both exemplary case studies and systematic cross-site analyses addressing key questions for an integrated and strategic  management of multifunctional watersheds:  (1) at what scales and contexts do green solutions provide tangible benefits to society; (2) and how can  combined  grey and green infrastructure portfolios be designed to maximize benefits for both nature and people?

The deadline for abstract submission is 31 July 2019 23:59 EDT/03:59 +1 GMT.

2019 AGU Fall Meeting

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) annual fall meeting will be held 9 – 13 December 2019 in Moscone Center, San Francisco. The Fall Meeting is the largest international Earth and space science meeting in the world, with speakers from around the globe presenting and facilitating discussion on cross-disciplinary geophysical topics, including atmospheric and ocean sciences; solid-Earth sciences; hydrologic sciences; and space sciences.

You might find us at one of these sessions:

Managing Multifunctional Watersheds for the 21st Century (GC052)

A changing climate and growing population will lead people to demand more and potentially different watershed services, including water resource regulation, energy generation, and geomorphic hazard reduction. Green solutions such as watershed restoration and improved agricultural practices have been shown to have important benefits for local livelihoods and biodiversity. These solutions are a corrective to grey infrastructure such as dams and levees that provide valuable services but may also produce major environmental externalities. However, alone these green solutions may not provide the magnitude of services required. We invite submissions showcasing both exemplary case studies and systematic cross-site analyses addressing key questions for an integrated and strategic  management of multifunctional watersheds:  (1) at what scales and contexts do green solutions provide tangible benefits to society; (2) and how can  combined  grey and green infrastructure portfolios be designed to maximize benefits for both nature and people?

Biophysical Processes of Rivers Under Extreme and Changing Conditions (EP006)

Rivers are naturally dynamic systems, characterized by a suite of biophysical processes that are regularly subject to exogenous factors. Under ranges of natural variability, the physics and biota of rivers are resilient to external changes. However, river basins globally are undergoing landscape-scale changes. These changes, which are associated with widespread land use, water management, and climate change, can fundamentally alter biophysical processes. This session focuses on the science and management of integrated biophysical processes in river systems undergoing changing variability, including greater and/or more frequent extremes. Topics may address questions such as: How do changing and extreme events (e.g. streamflow magnitude, frequency, timing, temperature) influence river processes or form and resultant ecosystem structure and function (e.g. habitat quality and availability, egg survival, food webs, algal blooms)? How should management and restoration of rivers be designed and prioritized to mitigate and/or be resilient to these large-scale changes?

Managing and Modeling Tradeoffs and Challenges of Environmental and Low Flows in the 21st Century. (H094)

Rivers are the main source of water, food and energy for billions of people, but the (mis-)management of this critical resource has deteriorated aquatic ecosystems globally. Quantifying how much flow is needed to maintain the ecological integrity of rivers, especially during low flow periods, has become a point of conflict and convergence, particularly in arid regions where most large rivers are regulated. Better managing tradeoffs between environmental flows and consumptive demands requires an improved understanding of watershed hydrology and the low flow characteristics of riverine systems, along with cascading effects on fluvial geomorphology, aquatic ecology, and social systems. This session invites contributions demonstrating recent advances in understanding and resolving competing water demands together with methodological advances on novel ways to define and simulate low flows. We invite contributions that bridge across scientific disciplines and that represent a diversity of regions around the world where water management conflicts are emerging.

Reservoir Sedimentation in Disturbed Landscapes: A Real Look at Lost Water Storage and Fish Passage Opportunities (EP033)

Aging infrastructure and loss of water storage capacity due to sedimentation will cause the social, economic, environmental, and political importance of reservoirs to increase progressively. Reservoirs provide flood control, water supply, and power generation but may hinder survival of anadromous fish. Sediment regimes in disturbed and contaminated landscapes, including the hydraulic mining-impacted Sierra Nevada, complicate efforts to restore storage capacity due to concern about contaminant mobilization. The best available science on mercury fate and transport can stimulate new discussion about sediment removal and maintenance activities. Measures to address sedimentation at reservoirs nearing total storage loss need to be identified and solutions evaluated, including installation of upstream traps, sediment pass-through, flushing or mechanical removal. Site-specific reservoir sedimentation surveys that account for unique sediment regimes of disturbed landscapes are needed to inform cost-benefit analysis of maintaining aging infrastructure at the expense of restoring volitional fish passage.


You are invited to submit an abstract for a presentation or poster to any of these sessions;  the abstract submission deadline is 31 July 2019 23:59 EDT/03:59 +1 GMT.


Northwest Hydraulic Consultants (NHC) hiring fluvial geomorphologist (Sacramento)
Northwest Hydraulic Consultants is looking for a full-time fluvial geomorphologist out of our Sacramento, California office. Northwest Hydraulic Consultants (NHC) is an international firm of consulting civil engineers and geoscientists providing professional services for the development, management, and protection of water resources. We have an immediate opening for a geomorphologist to assist in river engineering, restoration, geomorphic studies, sedimentation engineering and hydraulic design projects.
Applicants should have a minimum of a Bachelor’s with 5 years of  experience or Master’s degree. Applicants with experience from junior to senior level are welcome to apply. The applicants should be self-motivated individuals with a demonstrated ability to work independently and to prioritize multiple tasks to meet tight deadlines. Demonstrated report preparation and client liaison capabilities are required, along with solid computer skills (hydrologic models, numerical analysis, CAD, and office productivity software). Experience with instrumentation, developing plan sets and field data collection are assets.  
The successful candidates will demonstrate a commitment to high quality, client service, and excellent communication and organizational skills, and will be expected to use his/her skills to improve the quality and efficiency of our products. In return, NHC offers a competitive salary, comprehensive benefits package, including annual merit-based bonuses, and the opportunity for ownership within the firm. Most importantly, NHC offers the opportunity to work with like-minded individuals in an independent and specialized firm on technically challenging and satisfying real-world projects.
If interested please reach out to Brady McDaniel via email (
More information on NHC can be found at 
News on combined planning of dams and renewable energy systems

As demand for clean energy soars across many developing nations, governments face difficult decisions. Should they spend billions of dollars on hydropower, or invest in emerging solar, wind and energy-storage technologies? With the price of renewable energy dropping over the past decade, strategic replacement of energy from future dam sites with renewable energy sources is becoming more economically viable.

UC Berkeley Riverlab PostDoc Alum Rafael Schmitt, with collaborators Noah Kittner, Mathias Kondolf, and Daniel Kammen, had the opportunity to highlight this vision in Nature, as a call to action for the participants of the bi-annual International Hydropower Congress. This article describes how low-carbon alternatives to hydro power can be coupled with strategic dam planning to maximize free-flowing rivers while providing low-carbon energy.

Schmitt, R. J. P., Kittner, N., Kondolf, G. M., & Kammen, D. M. (2019). Deploy diverse renewables to save tropical rivers. Nature, 569(7756), 330.
Adaptive Management for an International River Basin: The Future of the Columbia River Treaty

The Columbia River Treaty between the US and Canada has been recognized as an innovative example of the bi-national management of the water resources of an international river. However, when the Treaty was ratified in 1964, it did not adequately consider the rights and responsibilities of tribes and First Nations or local residents, ecological functions such as fish and fish habitat, instream flow needs, river processes and ecology, etc. Additionally, the treaty did not address issues such as water requirements for municipal, industrial and agricultural uses, river transport and recreation, water quality, or potential changes in runoff characteristics and water temperature as a result of climate change. The United States and Canada are currently renegotiating the Columbia River Treaty and incorporating ecosystem function into the agreement, which was originally designed for hydropower generation and flood control, is a central theme. Both parties agree that an adaptive management framework will be critical to achieving these multiple objectives and treaty renegotiations are widely seen as providing an opportunity to modernize the treaty by including consideration of the above issues.

On May 9, 2019 the UC Berkeley Canadian Studies Program, Institute of International Studies, and Riverlab hosted a workshop on incorporating adaptive management (AM) into a modernized Columbia River Treaty. Scientists, policy experts, and representatives of First Nations and Tribes from Canada and the US met at UC Berkeley to present and discuss principles of adaptive management, successful precedents, and consider issues of legal perspectives, climate change, and power management relevant to revising the 55-year old treaty.

Reflecting the conclusions of the workshop was a one-page communiqué sent to US and Canadian negotiators in Washington and Ottawa. A more detailed summary of the workshop recommendations is available below:

Columbia River Treaty 2019 Workshop – Summary of Recommendations

The program for the workshop is available here, and PDF versions of the presentations from the workshop are available below:

New study: Estimating the benefits of widespread floodplain reconnection for Columbia River Chinook salmon
We are excited about a recent study co-authored by RiverLab masters student Tyler Nodine, which was recently published by the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences!
Using a combination of remote sensing and machine learning algorithms, the study estimates the potential benefit of floodplain reconnection throughout the Columbia River Basin (CBR) to Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) parr. The study found that connected floodplain width was the most important factor for determining side channel presence, and estimated a 26% decrease in side channel habitat area from historical conditions. Reconnection of historical floodplains currently used for agriculture could increase side channel habitat by 25% and spring Chinook salmon parr total rearing capacity by 9% over current estimates.
This publication came out of the Tyler’s work at NOAA at the Northwest Science Center. The paper is  can be downloaded directly here.
Bond, M. H., Nodine, T. G., Beechie, T. J., & Zabel, R. W. (2018). Estimating the benefits of widespread floodplain reconnection for Columbia River Chinook salmon. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 1–15.