Big Flows, Small Creek: Sulphur Creek Gets Hit Hard!

Manhole covers gushed, streets swam and hillsides slid.

The sky just opened up as the most intense storm I have ever seen – hit my hometown – and most fortunately I was HOME.  I grabbed my camera(s) and ran down to Sulphur Creek.  I had a moment of pause though.  

Should I instead run out to Shasta College and see what the storm was doing at the ECTF (Erosion Control Training Facility) since we had JUST (three days prior) completed filming the Big Cover Up and Hydromulch episodes and the compost blankets, hydromulch, ECBs and everything else was also getting blasted?

I chose Sulphur Creek because it was close to home and the storm cell was really “doing it here”.  Also for the last 12 years our non-profit watershed restoration group, SWAG (Sacramento Watersheds Action Group) has been restoring the long-degraded, gold mined, turned upside down, urban salmon/steelhead stream.  We have put over $1.8 million in grant funding “on the ground” realigning and restoring over 2-miles of stream, doing road-to-trail conversions, and increasing riparian and stream function.  See for more info.

The most recent work, completed 3 years ago was under a grant from CA DWR; SWAG partnered with the City of Redding.  Almost $400K was used to realign and restore floodplain along over 1 mile of creek.  This included sewer crossings camouflaged by Newbury rock riffles/rock vanes hybrids (David Derrick and I dubbed them “viffles”).  We also designed some fish passage step/pools at a Union Pacific Railroad Culvert (No fish have passed this point since construction – 1938).  

I was able to document the 1.8” / hour intensity rainfall.  WOW.  See how the Articulated Concrete Block (ACB) low water crossings faired.  Look at the before and during pix of the huge boulder step/pool viffles at the railroad.  During construction I was skeptical that such big rocks were necessary – but now I’m glad.  The orientation of the boulders was also critical as the viffle orientation provided much-needed stability.  Also, so grateful that David Derrick explained the importance of building riffles from the bottom up and “under compression”.

Well, that’s it for now.  But with Sulphur Creek I always have  more to say.  So stay tuned!!



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