The effects of floods on riverbank and levee stability are well known and documented on global scales. Lesser known are the effects of extreme low-flow conditions due to prolonged drought.
During the Millennium Drought (1997-2009) the lower Murray River experienced catastrophic failure of it’s riverbanks, extreme low-flows (-1.5m AHD below sea level) triggering widespread failure in the alluvial margins, damaging infrastructure and posing a high-risk to public safety. Recently, research undertaken by Tom Hubble and Elyssa De Carli for the Goyder Institute for Water Research on the Millennium Drought Riverbank Failures, has been applied to the current drought gripping California, in order to assess the risk and threat to California’s levees. An article was published in Science Letter’s by Assistant Professor F. Vahedifard and co-authors, outlining this significant risk, drawing on Australia’s Millennium Drought Failures as a precedent. Vahedifard et al 2015_CA Drought Levees_Science