Replacing Concrete Channels with Restored Creeks


The vision of the Fifty-Year Plan — as adopted by Contra Costa County in 2009 — broadens the need for flood infrastructure replacement into an opportunity to restore multi-functional creek corridors as riparian ecosystems and public greenways that address rising flood risk while offering more benefits to more people.

Replace Aging Flood Infrastructure or Restore Riparian Corridors?

As aging flood infrastructure approaches the end of its serviceable life, concrete components need replacement. This infrastructure allowed cities and suburbs throughout San Francisco Bay's nine counties to develop and prosper along low-lying valleys and up to the channel’s edge.

Today, channel infrastructure is locked in place, surrounded by development, and increasingly prone to failure as individual components degrade. In 2009, the Contra Costa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District proposed a "Fifty-Year Plan" to restore rather than replace aging concrete channels.

Realizing the Social + Ecological Potential of Creeks in Walnut Creek Watershed

Riverlab's research on restoration approaches to address aging infrastructure in Contra Costa County explores the social and ecological potential for reviving altered channels as multi-functional, community-serving creek corridors in Walnut Creek Watershed. We are developing interdisciplinary geospatial analyses to understand and identify opportunities and constraints to restoring altered channels and expanding riparian corridors in Walnut Creek's watershed. We share drafts of two outcomes of this analysis, click on report images above.

Flood Management and Riparian Corridor Restoration in Walnut Creek Watershed



  • A. Methods and Data Sources
  • B. Grayson Creek Subwatershed Results
  • C. Fifty-Year Plan Communication Strategy
  • D. Land Use and Policy Strategies
    • D1. Regulatory and Planning Integration
    • D2. Land Use Measures to Support Watershed Restoration
    • D3. Land Use and Sales Tax Revenue
    • D4. Model Ordinances to Support the Fifty-Year Plan
    • D5. Stakeholder Strategies for Local Policy Change
  • E. Stakeholder Analysis
  • F. Precedent Studies
  • G. Benefits Literature Review
  • H. Future Research Initiatives
  • I. Fifty-Year Plan Brochure Drafts
  • J. Bibliography: Methods to Inform Watershed Analysis and Restoration Planning