Managing Floods in Mediterranean-Climate Urban Catchments: Experiences in the San Francisco Bay Area (California, USA) and the Tagus Estuary (Portugal)

  • Pedro Pinto
  • Raymond Wong
  • Jack Curley
  • Ralph Johnson
  • Liang Xu
  • Len Materman
  • Mitch Avalon
  • Graça Saraiva
  • Anna Serra-Llobet
  • G. Mathias Kondolf


The San Francisco and Lisbon estuaries share many geographical similarities, but their different governance makes for interesting comparisons. Many tributaries to San Francisco Bay were channelized by the US Army Corps in the 1950s–1970s. The design flaws of these projects (such as their having ignored sediment) are manifest as local governments now struggle to maintain and operate them. Local agencies in the San Francisco region have used a range of innovative tools to solve these flood risk problems, such as creation of a new governance structure encompassing multiple jurisdictions around a stream, adoption of a 50-year plan to convert aging concrete channels into natural creeks, and implementation of projects that combine flood risk reduction with ecosystem and social benefits. Such a multi-purpose project built on the Ribeira das Jardas Stream near Lisbon has proven highly successful, especially as an urban social space.


San Francisco Bay region Tagus estuary US Army Corps of Engineers Polis program 50-year plan 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pedro Pinto
    • 1
  • Raymond Wong
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jack Curley
    • 4
  • Ralph Johnson
    • 5
  • Liang Xu
    • 6
  • Len Materman
    • 7
  • Mitch Avalon
    • 8
  • Graça Saraiva
    • 1
  • Anna Serra-Llobet
    • 2
    • 9
  • G. Mathias Kondolf
    • 2
    • 10
  1. 1.University of LisbonLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.University of California BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.GHDSan FranciscoUSA
  4. 4.Marin County Flood Control and Water Conservation DistrictSan RafaelUSA
  5. 5.Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation DistrictHaywardUSA
  6. 6.Santa Clara Valley Water DistrictSan JoseUSA
  7. 7.San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers AuthorityMenlo ParkUSA
  8. 8.Contra Costa County Flood Control & Water Conservation DistrictMartinezUSA
  9. 9.Aix-Marseille UniversityMarseilleFrance
  10. 10.University of LyonLyonFrance

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