Category: Opportunity


12 May 2021, 10am-1245pm PST (online)

This symposium begins with a keynote talk on ‘Restoring ecological processes in an urban river: the Isar in Munich’, presented by Dr Aude Zingraff-Hamed (Technical University of Munich). The Isar is an excellent example of how an important urban river can be restored to yield ecological and social benefits, an example from which we can learn in approaching our urban rivers. Next are graduate student research projects on riparian vegetation along Tassajara Creek, Dublin, 20 years post-restoration; tracing the Alhambra Wash in Los Angeles; the restored Yitong River waterfront in Changchun, China; managing encampments in waterways around the San Francisco Bay; and flood risk management and the ‘levee effect’ in West Sacramento, California. An expert panel including Prof Joe McBride (UC Berkeley) and Amanda Booth (City of San Pablo) reflects on themes raised in the student research projects.

Naturally deposited gravel bars in the Isar River provide habitat for a range of species, but especially for urban residents. (Photo by Matt Kondolf, July 2013)

You can also click on each of the session titles below (highlighted in blue) to download the video recordings.


10AM Keynote & Discussion

Restoring ecological processes in an urban river: the Isar in Munich, by Dr Aude Zingraff-Hamed, Technical University of Munich

10:45AM Graduate Student Research Projects

a. Twenty Years Later: Long-term monitoring of restored floodplain vegetation, Tassajara Creek, California, by Skyler Lewis

b. Tracing the Alhambra Wash: Past, Present, and Future, by Dana Tinio


c. Post-Occupancy Evaluation of the restored Yitong River waterfront in Changchun, by Zhufeng Pan

d. Managing Encampments in Waterways Around the San Francisco Bay Region: Policy and Practice, by Isabelle Doerschlag

e. Flood Risk Management and the Levee Effect in West Sacramento, California, by Corey Ng

12:15PM Panel Discussion

Amanda Booth, Joe McBride

Keynote and Panelist Biographies

Dr. Aude Zingraff-Hamed is research associate and lecturer at the Technical University of Munich, Chair for Strategic Landscape Planning and Management. Her research concerns river restoration, urban studies, nature-based solutions, hydro-meteorological risk, climate change, and water governance. She works currently on the PHUSICOS H2020 project  As a visiting scholar with Riverlab, she is exploring opportunities and constraints to implementing socio-ecological river restoration in highly urban contexts.

Joe R. McBride is Professor Emeritus of Ecology in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at the University of California, Berkeley.  His research has been focused on forest ecology with emphasis on riparian woodlands in California and the ecology of streams in urban areas. His book The World’s Urban Forests: History, Composition, Design, Function and Management is a reference in the field.

Amanda Booth is the Senior Environmental Program Analyst for the City of San Pablo. Ms. Booth has over 10 years of experience in developing and delivering various environmental programs, including managing the stormwater and sustainability programs for the City of San Pablo.


Restoring ecological processes in an urban river: the Isar in Munich
Dr Aude Zingraff-Hamed, Technical University of Munich

The transboundary Isar River flows from the Bavarian Alps into one of the last free-flowing sections of the Danube. The Isar was fundamental to the establishment of Munich and other cities located on its banks, and underwent morphological changes from human activity since the 18 th century, but especially with the boom in hydro-electrical production after the First World War. Starting in the late 20 th century, years of collaborative planning, pressure from civil society, changes in government institutions, and strong partnerships among non-government organizations, the river management approach changed from a traditional grey infrastructure-based approach to nature-based practices. The restoration of the Isar in Munich demonstrates that socio-ecological restorations are possible even in metropolitan city centers. Ultimately, the Isar River is an example of how civil society’s perception of ecosystem losses can lead to positive changes in water governance.

Twenty Years Later: Long-term monitoring of restored floodplain vegetation, Tassajara Creek, California 
Skyler Lewis

Actively incising Lower Tassajara Creek in Dublin, California, was restored as a compound channel in 1999-2000 to mitigate incision and provide flood conveyance capacity to reduce flood risk to an adjacent greenfield residential development. The compound channel design incorporated wide floodplain terraces, planted with native riparian and upland vegetation. Prior geomorphological and ecological studies conducted in the first decade after the restoration project suggested that the project had successfully halted channel incision and that riparian vegetation was developing. I built upon the last vegetation study in 2008, recreating the photo monitoring points and resurveying the established vegetation transects for the Tassajara Creek project’s northern reach. I also used remote sensing to quantify changes in vegetation cover over the last decade, finding a 63% increase in vegetation cover. Both field and remote sensing analyses indicated continued tree canopy growth and maturation of the riparian ecosystem in this restored urban stream. 

Flood Risk Management and the Levee Effect in West Sacramento, California
Corey Ng

I document the recent history of flood risk management and floodplain development in West Sacramento, a flood prone city adjacent to the state capital.  While West Sacramento participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, the Flood Insurance Rate Map for the city is outdated and does not adequately reflect actual flood risk. Analyses of US Census data, National Flood Insurance Program products, zoning ordinances, and remote sensing data indicate that development has continued in areas exposed to high flood hazard, increasing the risk of life and property to flooding. 

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.