Water Resource Collections and Archives


The Third Annual Berkeley River Restoration Symposium

The Third Annual Berkeley River Restoration Symposium

Saturday 3 December 2005
9am-5pm, reception to follow
112 Wurster Hall
University of California, Berkeley

The symposium is free and open to the public.Sponsored by the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Beatrix Farrand Fund, and the Water Resources Collections and Archives.


9am-11am Post-Project Appraisals of Urban Stream Restorations in the SF Bay Area, moderated by Matt Kondolf

  • Blackberry Creek, Berkeley: appraising success 10 years after day-lighting / Stephanie Gerson, Jane Wardani, Shiva Niazi
  • Post-Project Appraisal of Arroyo Viejo Creek Improvement Project, Oakland, California / Rune Storesund, Mary Cousins
  • Post-Project Appraisal of the Sausal Creek Restoration Site at Dimond Park and Recommendations for Future Management / Jonathan Largent, Betsey Eagon
  • Post-Project Appraisal of Village Creek Restoration, Albany, California / Melissa Asher, Kaumudi Atapattu
  • Post-Project Appraisal for Cerrito Creek at El Cerrito Plaza, El Cerrito, California / Sarah Berndt, Fran Smith
  • Post-Project Appraisal of Baxter Creek at Booker T. Anderson Park: Shopping Carts - the New Boulders / Janel Weston, Maggie McKeon, Colleen Bronner
11am Panel Discussion
12n Lunch Break
1:30 - 4:00pm Restoration of streams, floodplains, and wetlands, moderated by Toby Minear
  • Post-Project Appraisal of Crocker Creek Dam Removal Project, Sonoma County, California / Maureen Downing-Kunz, Colin Dudley, Alicia Gilbreath
  • Removal of Wilder Creek dam, Santa Cruz County: post-project appraisal / Damian Bickett, Alicia Gilbreath, Arielle Simmons
  • Wetlands and restoration opportunities in Rodeo Lagoon, GGNRA / Dave Shaw
  • Restoration opportunities on a beheaded San Pablo Creek / Shannah Anderson
  • Multistage channel reconstruction projects in Northern California: a preliminary assessment / Mark Tompkins
4pm  Panel Discussion featuring remarks on key issues in river restoration. Panelists: Mitch Avalon (Contra County Flood Control District), Carole Schemmerling (founder Urban Creeks Council), John Williams (former master for Lower American River studies for EDF vs EBMUD, former executive director San Francisco Bay Modeling Forum, Daivs), Ted Frink (chief Resource Restoration Section, California Department of Water Resources, Sacramento).
5pm  Reception


(Final papers from this course and for the course, Hydrology for Planners, can be found at the Water Resources Collections and Archives and at http://repositories.cdlib.org/wrca.)

Blackberry Creek, Berkeley: appraising success 10 years after day-lighting  / Stephanie Gerson, Jane Wardani, Shiva Niazi
Blackberry Creek drains a 0.3-acre watershed in the northeastern hills of Berkeley, California, flowing into Middle Creek and eventually into the San Francisco Bay. A 200-foot reach running under Thousand Oaks Elementary School was day-lighted in 1995 to provide an outdoor science lab for the school, an improved tot lot park, and an alternative to a culvert with a history of flooding. Post-project appraisals in 1996 and 2000 focused on geomorphic and biological aspects, and found sufficient channel capacity, but greater density of riparian vegetation than envisioned in the project plans. We conducted a PPA ten years after project construction, surveying a longitudinal profile and two cross sections, and compiled precipitation records to identify a 10-year rainfall in 2002. Channel form and capacity were stable. Comparison of repeat photographs suggests that bank vegetation has become even denser. Previous PPAs documented tension relating to perceived used and design among diverse groups as the school, a neighborhood association and a Tai Chi group that used the park. Our conversations with members of the school faculty and neighborhood association indicate that initial tensions have dissipated with general public acceptance, and the school now uses the site as a science lab.

Post-Project Appraisal of Arroyo Viejo Creek Improvement Project, Oakland, California / Rune Storesund, Mary Cousins
We appraised the post-project performance of the Arroyo Viejo Creek Improvement Project, located in Oakland, Alameda County, California. We attempted to evaluate the project based on seven goals identified during the project planning development stage, but most of the goals do not have quantifiable targets. To assess geomorphic stability, we surveyed the site and compared current conditions to designed and constructed conditions. We also conducted a vegetation survey to quantify the success of planted native vegetation. Three years after its completion, the Arroyo Viejo Creek Improvement Project has a mixed outcome. One of the key goals of the project was habitat improvement; there seems to be an implicit and untested assumption that native vegetation recovery alone would signal this improvement. The assemblage of native vegetation is well-established, but its growth lags behind the target level of 70% cover after three years, and invasive non-natives are a continuing threat. Another key goal, channel stability, is being met throughout most of the site, but there is localized scouring that indicates insufficient bank protection. Finally, the invasive aquatic vegetation on the site (primarily watercress) is capturing trash and potentially adding to degradation of water quality.

Post-Project Appraisal of the Sausal Creek Restoration Site at Dimond Park and Recommendations for Future Management / Jonathan Largent, Betsey Eagon
Sausal Creek originates in the Oakland Hills of California, runs through the city of Oakland, and terminates at the San Francisco Bay. Dimond Canyon Park is located at the transition area between the free-flowing, natural upper half of the stream and the channelized lower half. In response to a large flood event in 1995, the Friends of Sausal Creek (FoSC) mobilized an effort to restore an 825-foot reach of the creek. The project’s stated objectives were to remove six in-stream structures, improve water quality, stabilize the channel and banks, control erosion, improve access, and additionally to restore hydrologic function, sediment transport, native vegetation, and habitat for aquatic and terrestrial species. By 2002, the structures were removed from the channel, six rock weirs installed, 20,000 plants planted, bank stabilization installed, and 600 feet of the channel realigned and regraded. We conducted a post-project appraisal (PPA), based on water quality, aquatic insect, and vegetation monitoring data collected by the Friends of Sausal Creek. These data indicated no change in water quality or aquatic insects since the project. However, percent cover of vegetation increased from zero to 50 percent in the first 18 months of the project. FoSC found that 74% of the vegetation in the riparian corridor is native and using the Simpson’s Diversity Index, found that diversity has dramatically increased since the restoration. We surveyed nine cross-sections and the long profile of the restored channel. We compared our data to pre-project design information from Wolfe Mason and Associates and the as-built data from the Restoration Design Group and detected no changes in the channel. The rock weirs appeared to successfully create riffles and deep pools. We conducted a qualitative community survey and found that the trail is highly used by park visitors who are excited about the restoration. However, we found that dogs and people are eroding the banks, which could cause future failure. We recommend evaluation of sediment transport and hydrologic function, continued monitoring, implementation of dog management guidelines, permanent survey markers, and continued invasive plant removal.

Post-Project Appraisal of Village Creek Restoration, Albany, California / Melissa Asher, Kaumudi Atapattu
Village Creek, located in Albany, California, is the lower tributary of Marin Creek. In 1998, a 740-foot stretch of the Creek was day-lighted and restored into a meandering open channel creek with restoration of 0.77 acres of riparian and aquatic habitat. The objectives of the project were to increase aquatic habitat, provide flood protection for a 100-year flood, and recreate the natural stream dimensions for a bankfull channel, including a floodplain terrace. We evaluated the current hydraulic and geomorphic conditions to determine the change from initial implementation and to determine the extent to which restoration goals were met. Using facies mapping of gravel and sand bars, pools, riffles and glides, we noted an increase in channel complexity. Longitudinal and cross-sectional surveys also revealed an increase in channel complexity and minor changes in channel shape. In addition, our qualitative evaluation of the vegetation shows significant improvement in the riparian habitat. There is notable growth in the planted native species such as cottonwood, dogwood, alder and snowberry. However, due to the lack of base-flow, we did not observe major improvement in aquatic habitat in Village Creek.

Post-Project Appraisal for Cerrito Creek at El Cerrito Plaza, El Cerrito, California / Sarah Berndt, Fran Smith
In 2003, a three-block day-lighted section of Cerrito Creek was restored (approximately 700 feet in length) located between Talbot and Kains Streets. This stretch of creek is bordered on the north by the Plaza parking lot and on the south by residential units (mainly apartment buildings), which greatly limits the size of the project. Urbanization on either side reduced the creek to a narrow, deep ravine, but after the neighboring shopping center agreed to pull back their parking lot by 20 feet, the City of El Cerrito was able to begin the restoration. We evaluated the project using the project design drawings, interviews with community members, and data collected during site visits. Our team created a detailed facies map, surveyed cross-sections at various points of interest throughout the channel and did a pebble count of the major gravel bar. We compared the facies map with the design drawings to determine changes in vegetation, rock weirs, and boulder locations. In addition, we compared cross-sections to see how the shape of the channel and steepness of slope changed over time. There was some possibility that several rock weirs have been removed by the flow, since we could not locate them where they were shown on the design drawings. However, since as-built conditions were not recorded, these weirs may not have been built. In addition, we found numerous riprap boulders in the bed of the creek, which likely came from either the moved rock weirs or from the toes of the banks. Overall, we determined that the project to be a success and more importantly we hope that the data collected can be used as post-project baseline data for future analysis of this channel.

Post-Project Appraisal of Baxter Creek at Booker T. Anderson Park: Shopping Carts - the New Boulders / Janel Weston, Maggie McKeon, Colleen Bronner
In 2000, an 850-ft reach of Baxter Creek in Booker T. Anderson Jr. Park, Richmond, was regraded and the banks planted with riparian vegetation to improve water quality and wildlife habitat, and to provide an attractive amenity for the neighborhood and educational opportunity for nearby schools. Baseline studies of the restoration project were completed in 2000. In November 2005 we conducted a post-project appraisal, by surveying three cross sections and a long profile, mapping surficial sediment deposits, measuring water quality, and assessing growth of riparian vegetation by comparing current conditions with those documented on photographs taken pre-project and after construction. Our results showed that channel geometry has remained stable and riparian vegetation has increased. However, the channel has accumulated a great deal of trash, including shopping carts, mattresses, plastic bottles, and oil residues. Improvement in certain wildlife habitat parameters is offset by the large volume of trash and its negative effect on water quality and aesthetics.

Post-Project Appraisal of Crocker Creek Dam Removal Project, Sonoma County, California / Maureen Downing-Kunz, Colin Dudley, Alicia Gilbreath
We performed a post-project appraisal of the Crocker Creek Dam Removal Project, a restoration effort undertaken by the Sonoma County Water Agency in fall 2001. The dam removal site is located on a reach of Crocker Creek, a tributary to the Russian River in Sonoma County near Cloverdale, California. The 30-foot tall dam had impeded upstream migration of steelhead trout since its installation in the early 1900s. Prior to two structural failures, in 1995 and 1997, the dam had filled to capacity with sediment. We evaluated the project based on stated project objectives, post-project channel configuration and post-project riparian vegetation. According to the project documents and chief project engineer, the objectives were to improve steelhead trout passage, stabilize adjacent stream banks, and provide re-vegetation of riparian corridor. We measured post-project channel configuration through field surveys, including five channel cross-sections and 1300 feet of longitudinal profile. We compared the new cross-sections to post-construction elevations presented in construction drawings to track channel location and bank erosion. We used the longitudinal profile to identify riffles for steelhead trout spawning and pools suitable for shelter and development of fry. We observed areas of significant bank erosion, indicating the presence of unstable regions of stream bank. Portions of the stream bank were equipped with rip-rap; these areas have remained stable. We found that riparian re-vegetation efforts were partially successful. The restoration project succeeded in two respects: restoring fish passage through successful removal of the dam and stabilizing stream banks.

Removal of Wilder Creek dam, Santa Cruz County: post-project appraisal / Damian Bickett, Alicia Gilbreath, Arielle Simmons
Wilder Creek is a coastal stream draining 2.3 square miles in Santa Cruz County, California, debouching into the Pacific five miles west of Santa Cruz. A reservoir and dam was built in 1956, in an area that is now known as Wilder Ranch State Park. Designed to provide irrigation for agriculture, the dam blocked steelhead migration, and the dam’s small reservoir filled with sediment by 1985. During a seasonal flood in 1994, the creek migrated around the sediment-filled dam, carving a large gully into a nearby field and exposing two pipelines. In the fall of 2000, the California State Parks and Department of Fish and Game authorized the removal of the dam. Along with the consulting firm, Watershed Science, a restoration plan was designed to fill the gully, plant willows, and install structures of boulders and wood debris to reduce bank erosion and control the grade. We conducted a post-project appraisal to analyze the geomorphic and environmental changes that occurred after the dam's removal, using a resurveyed long profile, interviews, and background documents. We surveyed approximately 1,500 feet of the creek and evaluated three channel cross sections. We qualitatively evaluated the vegetation re-growth and the durability of the instream structures installed by the restoration plan. Our findings indicate mixed results: some project goals were met, while others are impossible to evaluate due to a lack of pre-project data collection. We also reported unanticipated factors that limited the project’s overall success, yet provided important "lessons learned" for future dam removal planning.

Wetlands and restoration opportunities in Rodeo Lagoon, GGNRA / Dave Shaw
Rodeo Lagoon is located in the Marin Headlands, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, 4-miles north of San Francisco and is one of the most visited areas in the park. Historical livestock grazing, agriculture, and road-building for military use have altered stream and wetland functions in the 4.4 square mile watershed. Streams are actively incising primarily due to higher flow velocities in straightened channels, concentration of flow near roads and trails, and increased overland runoff from roads and grazed lands. Other wetlands were buried by placement of culverts and fill. I identified opportunities to re-establish fluvial and wetland processes to former wet meadow and floodplain areas and used hydrologic, geomorphic, and social characteristics of the site as the basis for a comprehensive restoration design. Aerial photograph and map interpretation indicates that most tributaries to Rodeo Lagoon historically consisted of discontinuous channels flowing through wet meadows prior to establishment of dairy farms and the army base. Field observations, topographic surveys, channel cross-section measurements, ground water levels and chemical data indicate that channel incision and re-alignment has lowered ground-water conditions in former wet meadows and desiccated wetlands. Working with the Park Service, I developed a prioritized list of potential restoration sites and approaches and provided a conceptual restoration design alternative for the highest priority site, the Surfer Parking Lot at the north end of Rodeo beach. The design alternative calls for excavating fill material to the ground water table elevation, exposing former wetland soils, and re-aligning channels to more closely approximate the 19th century alignment.

Restoration opportunities on a beheaded San Pablo Creek / Shannah Anderson
San Pablo Creek drains 42 square miles before draining into San Pablo Bay in Richmond, California. San Pablo Dam, built in 1919, retains most of the upper watershed’s runoff in San Pablo Reservoir as a drinking water supply. As a result, the reach downstream of the dam (lower San Pablo Creek) has a distinct hydrology driven by runoff from the unregulated, lower 11.2 square mile drainage area. Despite the fact that the creek is dammed, it is primarily open and unchannelized from dam to mouth. However, regulating agencies in Contra Costa County have documented little baseline information on lower San Pablo Creek. I developed baseline data on Lower San Pablo Creek and its tributaries, documenting channel morphology after nearly a century of reduced flows, establishing stream gauges on the tributaries for the first time, evaluating potential steelhead trout habitat, and surveying local stakeholders. I identified restoration opportunities to improve water quality and habitat on both public and private properties. The San Pablo Creek Watershed Plan: A Vision for Enhancing Environmental Resources in El Sobrante, San Pablo, and Richmond was completed in August 2005, and implementation of the plan began fall of this year.

Multistage channel reconstruction projects in Northern California: a preliminary assessment / Mark Tompkins
Floodplains are essential components of healthy river ecosystems and floodplain disconnection is increasingly recognized as a major factor in river corridor ecosystem degradation in many parts of the world. Rivers in urbanizing watersheds have been especially sensitive to floodplain disconnection. Increases in the urban density of watersheds increase flashiness of flood peaks, increase magnitudes of floods (due to increased impervious area), and alter sediment transport dynamics. In addition, flood control infrastructure confines increased flood peaks within artificially narrow corridors. Together, these alterations to urban rivers have resulted in channel incision and disconnection of active channels from floodplains. One form of floodplain reconnection that has developed largely in urbanizing watersheds has been the construction of multistage channels (i.e. channels with cross sectional geometry that widens with increasing stage). The primary objective of these projects has been to maintain or improve flood conveyance and restore floodplain functions that allow complex aquatic and riparian habitat to develop and persist. I conducted post-project appraisals of multistage channel reconstruction projects on Lower Silver Creek, Alamo Creek, Green Valley Creek, Tassajara Creek , Miller Creek, and Wildcat Creek (all in Northern California) to assess performance with respect to flood control and ecosystem restoration goals. I identified wide ranges of habitat development and flood control reliability in these projects, and my results suggest important design and maintenance considerations that could improve future applications of this floodplain reconnection technique.


Mitch Avalon is Deputy Public Works Director and Deputy Chief Engineer for the Contra Costa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, where he oversees the development of regional management plans for flood control, while balancing environmental needs, and oversees the County's Clean Water Program. He also chairs the Alhambra Creek Watershed Council. He has a BS in Civil Engineering (UCB).

Betty Andrews is a Principal with the environmental hydrology firm of Philip Williams & Associates, Ltd. (PWA) in San Francisco, where she has worked for 15 years, following 7 years as a river advocate at a nonprofit organization. As a consulting civil engineer, she maintains a broad practice, with a focus on stream and floodplain restoration, flood management, fluvial geomorphology, and river management policy, particularly the integration of flood hazard management and river ecosystem enhancement.

Carole Schemmerling is a Board Member of the Urban Creeks Council, which she co-founded in 1982. Trained in horticulture, she has worked for UC Botanic Garden and as a landscaper in the private sector, and currently works with the East Bay Community Mediation Service as an environmental mediator. Carole chaired the City of Berkeley Parks and Recreation Commission from 1979-1991, and now serves on the board of the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture.

Jonathan Owens is a hydrologist at Balance Hydrologics, a hydrology consulting company in Berkeley, California. Jonathan leads projects focused on watershed management, sediment transport, and stream restoration. Jonathan was educated at Dartmouth College and U.C. Berkeley in the Civil Engineering Department.

Tom Spittler is Senior Engineering Geologist with California Geological Survey where he works on slope stability, soil erosion, and sedimentation problems associated with timber harvesting, fires, storms, and earthquakes. Over the past 30 years he has identified and mitigated hillslope sediment sources that could affect or be affected by landuse practices or wildfire. He is presently revising the California Forest Practice Rules related to roads and watercourse crossings to better address both hillslope and fluvial conditions.

John G. Williams was lead scientist for the recently completed white paper on Central Valley salmonids for the CALFED Bay-Delta Program, and a member of the NOAA Fisheries Technical Recovery Team for Central Valley salmonids. Former Executive Director of the Bay-Delta Modeling Forum, he served Special Master for Superior Court overseeing studies on the Lower American River for Environmental Defense Fund v. East Bay Municipal Utility District. He has a PhD in Geography (UCLA).

Ted Frink is chief of the Resource Restoration Section, Division of Planning and Local Assistance, in the California Department of Water Resources, where he oversees programs including the Urban Streams Grant Program and the Fish Passage Program.

ABOUT THE CLASS: Restoration of Rivers and Streams (LA227)

Taught since 1992 (the longest-running course devoted to river restoration at a major research university), this course emphasizes understanding of underlying goals and assumptions of restoration and integration of science into restoration planning and design. Students review restoration plans and evaluate completed projects. In addition to lectures and discussions by the instructor, students, and an extraordinary set of guest lecturers drawn from the active restoration community, the principal course requirement is an independent term project involving original research. The term projects are peer-reviewed, revised, and ultimately added to the permanent collection of the UC Water Resources Collections and Archives.

Restoration at UC


The kite-flown aerial images below exhibit the evolution of the Cordonices Creek restoration, October 2004 - November 2005. Images courtesy of Cris Benton.

October 2004

January 2005

May 2005

September 2005

September 2005

November 2005

Last modified: 5/26/2011 10:34 AM by S. Haren

UCR Contact Information

Water Resources Collections and Archives
Tomás Rivera Library, 4th Floor
PO Box 5900
University of California
Riverside, CA 92517-5900

Tel: 951-827-3233    Fax: 951-827-4673    email Email

CSUSB Contact Information

Water Resources Institute, CSUSB
Boykin Witherspoon III, Institute Director
California State University, San Bernardino
PL-401 5500 University Parkway
San Bernardino CA 92407-2318

Tel: 909-537-3685    email Email