Tidal Creeks and Flood Control Channels

Guidance for assessing the impacts of sea level rise on this flooding.

Wildcat Creek - HOT zone Credit SFEI

Wildcat Creek. Photo credit: SFEI.

As sea level rises, new and prolonged flooding will not only occur along the San Francisco Bay shoreline, but also along creeks and channels that connect and drain to the Bay. Sea level rise will exacerbate this riverine flooding because rising tides will progressively reduce the capacity of tidal creeks and flood control channels to discharge riverine flows.

In this project, the ART Program developed guidance for how to assess the vulnerability of tidal creeks and flood control channels to sea level rise. The recommended approach involves planners working with flood managers to evaluate combined coastal-riverine flooding. It builds on the vulnerability assessment process developed by the ART Program and on the San Francisco Estuary Institute’s (SFEI’s) protocol for locating the current head of tide and predicting where this zone of tidal influence may migrate as sea level rises.

Alhambra Creek ds HOT zone Credit SFEI

Alhambra Creek. Photo credit: SFEI.

Project Status

The protocol and guidance were completed in Spring 2015.

The ART Program is now successfully using this approach in the Contra Costa County ART Project, where staff are working with the Contra Costa County Water Conservation and Flood Control District to evaluate flood control projects and integrating these outcomes into a multi-sector adaptation planning effort.

Findings and Materials

Up a Creek?: Guidance on assessing flood control risk pdf_icon

Initial SFEI protocol for identifying and delineating the Head of Tide zone in San Francisco Bay Tributaries, June 2014. Report pdf_icon

Project Partners

San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC)

San Francisco Estuary Institute

This project was funded with qualified outer continental shelf oil and gas revenues by the Coastal Impact Assistance Program, Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.

For more information:

  • Heather Dennis
  • Heather.Dennis@bcdc.ca.gov