Author: riverlab

River Restoration: Fluvial-Geomorphic and Ecological Tools

22-26 June 2020, Beaumont du Ventoux, Provence FR

https://institutbeaumont.org

This shortcourse/workshop emphasizes understanding geomorphic process as a sound basis for planning and designing river restoration projects and programs, with specific applications and field visits to Mediterranean and mountain environments. The course draws heavily on innovative process based river restoration and management experiences in France and elsewhere in the EU, complemented by experiences in North America. Instruction includes lectures, field exercises, problem sets and workshops on approaches to planning and implementing process-based restoration, with instructors drawn from both sides of the Atlantic.

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 will be posted in the near future.

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

River and reservoir sustainability in a monsoon climate: experience from Taiwan

02 November 1030a-1p, Rm 223 Moses Hall

Presented by Professor Hsiao-Wen Wang (National Cheng Kung University Taiwan), currently a Fulbright scholar at Berkeley working on conflicts between renewable energy and ecological values.  Like California, Taiwan has highly seasonal precipitation with high interannual variability, so reservoir storage is essential to provide water in dry months and dry years.  But the sediment yields in Taiwan are among the highest in the world, resulting in rapid filling of reservoirs, motivating Taiwan to implement sediment management measures sooner than elsewhere (Wang et al. 2018).  What can we learn from Taiwan’s experience?

This seminar is part of the interdisciplinary faculty seminar series, Water Management: Past and Future Adaptation, presented under the auspices of the UC Berkeley Institute of International Studies.  As both the developed and developing world confront intensifying demands on rivers and other water resources, impacts are evident from extractions of water for human uses, proliferation of dams, mining sediments from river beds, and intensified land-use impacts, all exacerbated by climate change.  Accelerated erosion of coasts and deltas (e.g., from sediment starvation, groundwater pumping, accelerated sea-level rise) are among the manifestations of these impacts.  Our seminar takes an interdisciplinary approach these challenges by examining how societies have adapted to variability in the past (uncertainty in water supply, flood risk, etc) and considers the tools we have to manage future variability in river flows and sediment loads, including variability in water supplies, increased flood risk, and the existential threat to many coastal areas.

 

References Cited

Wang, H-W, GM Kondolf, D Tullos, and W-C Kuo.  Sediment management in Taiwan’s reservoirs and barriers to implementation.  Water 10(8), 1034; doi:10.3390/w10081034

 

Managing sediment at the river basin scale: sediment-starved rivers and sand rights for the coast

Friday 26 October 1030-1p, Rm 223 Moses Hall.

The seminar will feature contributions from Carrie Monohan (Sierra Fund), Katherine Stone (MWGJF, retired), Mark Capelli (NOAA), and discussant Holly Doremus (Boalt).  Dams and instream aggregate mining interrupt the continuity of sediment in river systems, with consequences including coastal sediment starvation and consequent accelerated erosion and delta subsidence.  The concept of ‘sand rights’ has been proposed as a legal doctrine to protect downstream and coastal interests from interruption of their natural sand supply (Stone 2000).  In northern California, the legacy of sediment accumulation from 19th and early 20th century gold mining continues to present challenges, including problems created by the ‘debris dams’ (such as Englebright Reservoir on the Yuba) constructed to prevent sediment generated by hydraulic mining from moving downstream.

This seminar is part of the interdisciplinary faculty seminar series, Water Management: Past and Future Adaptation, presented under the auspices of the UC Berkeley Institute of International Studies.  As both the developed and developing world confront intensifying demands on rivers and other water resources, impacts are evident from extractions of water for human uses, proliferation of dams, mining sediments from river beds, and intensified land-use impacts, all exacerbated by climate change.  Accelerated erosion of coasts and deltas (e.g., from sediment starvation, groundwater pumping, accelerated sea-level rise) are among the manifestations of these impacts.  Our seminar takes an interdisciplinary approach these challenges by examining how societies have adapted to variability in the past (uncertainty in water supply, flood risk, etc) and considers the tools we have to manage future variability in river flows and sediment loads, including variability in water supplies, increased flood risk, and the existential threat to many coastal areas.

 

References Cited

Stone, K. 2000. Sand rights: a legal system to protect the shores of the sea. 29 Stetson Law Review 709, 732 (2000). 

 

Dams, Sediment Discontinuity, and Management Responses in Mediterranean River Basins

Friday 05 October 2018, ENS Lyon

By: Gabrielle Bouleau, Carole BarthélémyEmeline Comby, Joanna Guerrin

River basin management has mostly concerned management of water resources, with relatively little attention paid to the sediment continuity essential to maintain downstream channel functions and coastal features.  The sediment loads of most major rivers have decreased in recent decades as a result of extensive trapping of sediment by dams, increasingly manifest in accelerated coastal erosion and loss of delta lands. 

This conference examined three large rivers in southern Europe: the Rhône, Ebro, and Po.  All have headwaters in high mountain ranges and traverse Mediterranean-climate dominated basins.  All three have experienced afforestation of their mountainous headwaters since the 19th century, which has reduced erosion rates and sediment supply to the river system.  All three have been extensively modified and impounded for irrigation water supply, hydroelectric production, flood control, and navigation, mined for production of construction aggregate, and otherwise altered for human uses, and all three evince erosion and subsidence of sediment-deprived deltas. 

For each river, speakers reported on sediment discontinuity and sediment management from both geomorphic and environmental history perspectives (see programme below). One intervention, a social science perspective on sediment in the Rhône, was in the form of a half-hour video, which is available at the link above.  In discussion, speakers and participants from the audience drew comparisons among the three river basins, noting similarities and differences.  There was broad agreement among participants that the topic as framed by the conference merits further exploration. 

The conference was hosted by the Collegium – Lyon Institute of Advanced Studies and the CNRS Laboratory UMR 5600 Environnement Ville Société, and co-sponsored by the Agence Francaise de la Biodiversité, Eléctricité de France, and Companie Nationale du Rhône, in collaboration GRAIE and the Agence de l’Eau Rhône-Méditerranée-Corse.  The conference was coordinated with a broader research effort initiated by Professor G Mathias Kondolf (UC Berkeley) and Asst Professor Giacomo Parrinello (Sciences Po), The Social Life of the Sediment Balance: A Social and Geomorphic Approach to the Transformation of River Systems and Deltas, supported by the France-Berkeley Fund and a UC Berkeley Social Science Matrix-Sciences Po collaboration grant.

>>Conference programme

Adapting to sea level rise: Emerging governance issues in the San Francisco Bay Region

This recently published study by Pedro J. Pinto, Matt Kondolf, and Raymond Wong  (Environmental Science and Policy 90: 28-37) explores examples where actual implementation of SLR adaptation has led, or may lead to, the need to revise standards and practices or require uneasy choices between conflicting public interests.  While there is broad agreement in principle in the San Francisco Bay region on the need to adapt to sea-level rise through innovative approaches, actual implementation has proven difficult because of institutional complexity and communication challenges among stakeholders, including conflicting agency mandates and priorities.  Removing institutional barriers to adaptation will almost certainly require some agencies to adapt their policies, but path dependence is an obstacle.  The article is available for free download until 18 November here

A related paper explores why the SF Bay is so highly vulnerable to sea-level rise by comparison to the Tagus Estuary, Lisbon, Portugal, which is physiographically similar but was subject to a very different development history. A key difference was the role of the US Swamp Act of 1850, which turned tidal lands over from the federal government to states so the latter could encourage drainage and development, leading ultimately to a vast area of urban settlement subject to inundation in coming decades.  By contrast, in Portugal such tidal lands remained in the control of the crown, and were managed mostly for low-intensity agriculture, so today these lands are available to accommodate the landward migration of tidal wetlands with sea level rise, without conflicting with most urban land uses.  The paper,

“Evolution of two urbanized estuaries: environmental change, legal framework, and implications for sea-level rise vulnerability” (Water 8:535) is available online (open access) at http://www.mdpi.com/2073-4441/8/11/535/pdf

 

‘Horizontal levee’ with migrating ecotone. (adapted from HDR 2015)

Parallel trends in river evolution across continents in the Anthropocene: implications for sustainable water and environment

Tuesday 11 September 2018, 3:30-5pm, Rm 223 Moses Hall, UC Berkeley

The term ‘Anthropocene’ is proposed for our current epoch, in which the role of human activity is beginning to exceed that of natural forces in shaping the earth’s surface.  Rivers are now adjusting their morphology from the cumulative impact of many drivers for change operating at multiple spatial and temporal scales: changing land uses, instream aggregate mining, channelization, bank protection and dam construction, alongside changing flood and flow regimes.  In response, river channels have narrowed, incised into their beds, reduced their lateral activity, and frequently changed from multi-thread to single-thread channel patterns.   Integrative analyses of these multiple causes and effects were impractical until recent improvements in digital technologies and data availability.  Synthesis of prior cumulative impact studies and a GIS-based analysis of newly available digital data demonstrate that river systems (in both the Old World and New) became significantly simplified, more static, and more homogenous over the 20th century, with important implications for river ecosystems and the benefits provided to human populations.

 

The Santa Clara River flows through a complex floodplain landscape in Southern California.

 

Peter Downs is an Associate Professor of Physical Geography at the University of Plymouth, UK.  Previously at the University of Nottingham, Peter also spent ten years in interdisciplinary professional practice in the Bay Area which continues to guide his research interests in fluvial geomorphology, river restoration, and science and policy in river basin management.  Recent projects have involved the development of a process-based sediment budget, investigating the coarse sediment dynamics in upland channels, and passive monitoring of coarse sediment fluxes using seismic impact plates.  In each case, research is stimulated by a distinct practical challenge.  The topic of this seminar stems from a EURIAS Senior Fellowship (2016-17), spent at the Collegium de Lyon Institute for Advanced Studies, initiating research into the cumulative impact of human activities and natural factors in determining the evolution of river channels during the late Anthropocene.

 

This seminar is presented as part of the interdisciplinary faculty seminar series Water Management: Past and Future Adaptation of the UC Berkeley Institute of International Studies.

Colloquium Lecture: Social Connectivity of Urban Rivers

Wednesday, September 5, 2018, 315A Wurster Hall, UC Berkeley, 1:10PM – 2:00PM

Professor G. Mathias Kondolf
University of California, Berkeley Landscape Arch. & Environmental Planning, Co-Director Global Metropolitan Studies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social connectivity of urban rivers is the communication and movement of people, goods, ideas, and culture along and across rivers, recognizing longitudinal, lateral, and vertical connectivity, social interactions that are especially intense and pervasive in urban reaches of rivers. Urban riverfront projects have become ubiquitous in the developed, and increasingly in the developing worlds, but these projects raise questions about what constitutes ‘restoration’ in the urban context, and to what degree natural processes and ecological values can be restored in an urban context.

 

Mathias Kondolf is a fluvial geomorphologist, Professor of Environmental Planning at the University of California Berkeley, and fellow at the Collegium, Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Lyon, France. He teaches courses in hydrology, river restoration, and environmental science. He researches human-river interactions, including managing flood-prone lands, urban rivers, sediment in rivers and reservoirs, and river restoration and advises governments and non-governmental organizations on sustainable management of rivers.

Dams, Sediment Discontinuity, and Management Responses in Mediterranean River Basins

Friday 05 October 2018 (0900 – 1800), Amphithéâtre René Descartes, ENS de Lyon, France

>>Text in French

A 1-day conference at the Ecole Normal Superior of Lyon, France, will examine human-induced disturbance of sediment continuity at the river-basin scale and its potential management/restoration, from both a physical science and environmental history perspective. The conference focuses on three Mediterranean river basins, the Rhone, Ebro, and Po, drawing lessons from these relatively simple cases. Subsequent efforts will address more complex river basins involving multiple, often adversarial, sovereign states. (In English and French, with simultaneous translation.)

>> Conference programme

Human alterations increasing sediment yields from the upland landscape, sediment trapping above dams, and consequences of sediment starvation downstream. (from Kondolf & Piégay 2011)

Rivers carry not only water, but sediment.  Recent interest in river basin management has mostly concerned management of water resources, with relatively little attention paid to the sediment continuity essential to maintain downstream channel functions/form and coastal features.  Despite widespread increases in land disturbance and consequent increased sediment yields from upland areas in many areas, especially in the developing world, the sediment loads of most major rivers have decreased in recent decades – as a result of extensive trapping of sediment by dams, increasingly manifest in accelerated coastal erosion and loss of delta lands.

In this conference, we examine three large rivers in southern Europe: the Rhône, Ebro, and Po. All three have experienced afforestation of their mountainous headwaters since the 19th century, which has reduced erosion rates and sediment supply to the river system. All three have been extensively modified and impounded for irrigation water supply, hydroelectric production, flood control, and navigation, mined for production of construction aggregate, and otherwise altered for human uses, and all three evince problems of erosion and subsidence of sediment-deprived deltas.  All three have basins that are all or dominantly in one state (or two), which simplifies somewhat the challenge of basin-scale management.  All three have had some basin-scale planning, the Ebro perhaps most notably with establishment of its Hydrographic Confederation in the 1920s, some years before the better-known Tennessee Valley Authority in the US.  All three are subject to EU regulations, notably the Water Framework Directive.

For each river, we will summarize sediment continuity in the context of physical and ecological processes at the basin scale, and the environmental history and institutional setting.  We seek to understand better, at the basin scale, how and why sediment continuity has changed over the past two centuries, whether and how these changes were understood and managed, and whether there has been recognition (and management) at this scale.

From our review of the literature on river-basin scale planning and management, there has been little basin-scale understanding and management of sediment issues reported, even where problems have been manifest, such as shrinking deltas.  In part, this is probably attributable to the lack of overall river basin authorities, or the fact that these authorities, where they exist, are unlikely to recognize sediment management as a pressing issue.  And many rivers drain territory in multiple states, complicating the problems, especially where there is tension between the states.

This conference will feature presentations on the three river basins from both physical geography and environmental history/social sciences perspectives, and discussants setting these basins in a larger framework.  (in English and French with simultaneous translation)

Hosted by the Collegium – Lyon Institute of Advanced Studies and the CNRS Laboratory UMR 5600 Environnement Ville Société, the conference is co-sponsored by the Agence Francaise de la Biodiversité, Eléctricité de France, and Companie Nationale du Rhône, in collaboration GRAIE and the Agence de l’Eau Rhône-Méditerranée-Corse.  This conference is coordinated with a broader research effort initiated by Professor G Mathias Kondolf (UC Berkeley) and Asst Professor Giacomo Parrinello (Sciences Po), The Social Life of the Sediment Balance: A Social and Geomorphic Approach to the Transformation of River Systems and Deltas, supported by the France-Berkeley Fund and a UC Berkeley Social Science Matrix-Sciences Po collaboration grant.

 

References

Kondolf, G.M. and Piégay, H. 2011. Geomorphology and society. Chapter 6 in Handbook of Geomorphology, K. Gregory, ed., SAGE Publications, London, pp.105-117.