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Trainees study consequences of early river control projects

Research Achievements

Trainees study consequences of early river control projects

Trainees in the 2010 cohort of the REACH IGERT studied the history and consequences of early river control projects-- patterns of flooding in space and time-- on subsequent flood control strategies and on low-income groups-- using flood control of the Napa River as a case study.

They examined the history of hydraulic gold mining, which redistributed mining wealth from gold-panners, who did few river modifications, to those who could put up capital for large sluice systems. These early large-scale river modifications formed the basis of flood control infrastructure in Napa, but differentially flooded low-income neighborhoods, and exacerbated Napa’s already drastic shortage of affordable housing.

Students also used hydraulic and life history models to examine how the change in flooding regime affected two important species: the Sacramento splittail and cottonwood. Their results suggest that even slight increases in flooded habitat will aid splittail and cottonwood populations.