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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Hydrologic investigation of concrete flood control channel at UC Berkeley’s Richmond Field Station


The Richmond Field Station Natural Restoration Project is a five-year, multimillion dollar effort by the University of California to remedy polluted marsh lands, restore upland prairie habitat, and to convert a concrete flood control channel into a free flowing creek and riparian corridor. Historically no creek existed here so the dynamics of this concrete drain system must be understood to properly design a new channel. This study assesses multiple aspects of the concrete channel to determine the health(assessed using EPA standards) and qualifications for restoration. We measured flow at various intervals along the channel using velocity observations and cross sectional areas, developing a stage-discharge relationship. On a weekly basis for three months during the winter/spring of 2004 we measured water quality characteristics: dissolved oxygen, turbid ity, and conductivity. This information addresses the question of what the hydrological characteristics are for this unique system and the health of this system with regards to these variables. The channel had a consistent base flow of about 1 cubic foot per second (cfs) over the period of January 2004 to April 2004 with a peak flow around 152cfs. A linear relationship exists between depth and flow. The slope of the channel water surface is about 0.36%. The water quality parameters were indicative of a healthy system. The results of this project provide baseline knowledge for future investigations.

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