Presentation Title

Identification and Optimization of High Priority River Reach Locations for Floodplain Reconnection on a Watershed Scale

Project Collaborators

Kristen Underwood (B), Donna Rizzo (B), Nicholas Vartanian (B), Douglas Denu (B)

Abstract

For decades, engineers have installed built structures (e.g., levees, berms, armoring) to mitigate the effects of flood inundation and erosion. These structures are costly to maintain and may encourage development in areas vulnerable to damage from extreme flooding events forecasted with a changing climate. “Green” infrastructure, such as floodplain reconnection projects, offers more sustainable alternatives to mitigate downstream flooding impacts. Floodplain reconnection allows floodwaters to overtop the channel banks giving more access to floodplain areas to help dissipate flood energies, slow velocities, reduce in-channel erosion of sediment and phosphorus, and decrease infrastructure damages along the riverbanks. Floodplain reconnection also provides new areas along the river for sediment and phosphorus storage, decreasing the amount of sediment and phosphorus that flows into Lake Champlain where it causes negative environmental effects. In choosing the best techniques and locations for floodplain reconnection, the planner has a multitude of decisions and concerns to consider while staying within project budget constraints. Thus, there is a need for tools that can optimize the types of reconnection projects and their location, allowing planners to review a suite of possible options. An optimization algorithm that addresses multiple stakeholder concerns, aimed at minimizing project costs while maximizing phosphorus and sediment storage in the reconnected floodplain areas, will enable a suite of options for planners to consider that best match multiple needs. Factors such as sediment regime type, distance upstream of town centers, specific stream power, incision ratio, project size, slope, and land cover will be considered in the objective function of the multi-objective optimization algorithm. The Winooski River basin located in the Lake Champlain Basin in Northern/Central Vermont will be analyzed with the proposed tool. The proposed research will help identify which reaches are at a higher priority for reconnection on a watershed scale. Planners will be able to analyze these high priority reaches based on their stakeholder concerns and choose the best locations for their reconnection projects.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Kristen Underwood

Secondary Mentor NetID

drizzo

Secondary Mentor Name

Donna Rizzo

Status

Graduate

Student College

College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences

Program/Major

Civil Engineering

Primary Research Category

Engineering & Physical Sciences

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Identification and Optimization of High Priority River Reach Locations for Floodplain Reconnection on a Watershed Scale

For decades, engineers have installed built structures (e.g., levees, berms, armoring) to mitigate the effects of flood inundation and erosion. These structures are costly to maintain and may encourage development in areas vulnerable to damage from extreme flooding events forecasted with a changing climate. “Green” infrastructure, such as floodplain reconnection projects, offers more sustainable alternatives to mitigate downstream flooding impacts. Floodplain reconnection allows floodwaters to overtop the channel banks giving more access to floodplain areas to help dissipate flood energies, slow velocities, reduce in-channel erosion of sediment and phosphorus, and decrease infrastructure damages along the riverbanks. Floodplain reconnection also provides new areas along the river for sediment and phosphorus storage, decreasing the amount of sediment and phosphorus that flows into Lake Champlain where it causes negative environmental effects. In choosing the best techniques and locations for floodplain reconnection, the planner has a multitude of decisions and concerns to consider while staying within project budget constraints. Thus, there is a need for tools that can optimize the types of reconnection projects and their location, allowing planners to review a suite of possible options. An optimization algorithm that addresses multiple stakeholder concerns, aimed at minimizing project costs while maximizing phosphorus and sediment storage in the reconnected floodplain areas, will enable a suite of options for planners to consider that best match multiple needs. Factors such as sediment regime type, distance upstream of town centers, specific stream power, incision ratio, project size, slope, and land cover will be considered in the objective function of the multi-objective optimization algorithm. The Winooski River basin located in the Lake Champlain Basin in Northern/Central Vermont will be analyzed with the proposed tool. The proposed research will help identify which reaches are at a higher priority for reconnection on a watershed scale. Planners will be able to analyze these high priority reaches based on their stakeholder concerns and choose the best locations for their reconnection projects.