Panel of experts will focus on risk of catastrophic levee failures in California
BY MARK SHWARTZ
The catastrophic failure of the New Orleans levee system during Hurricane Katrina, and the potential for similar disasters in California and other states, will be the focus of the seventh annual Shah Family Fund Lecture at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 10, in Stanford University's Kresge Auditorium. The event, which will feature a panel of experts from the United States and the Netherlands, is free and open to the public.
"With entire cities, such as New Orleans and Sacramento, relying on flood protection provided by hundreds of miles of often underdesigned, poorly maintained levees, difficult questions about levee safety and flood management policy are now being asked," said lecture organizer Martin McCann Jr., a consulting professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford.
"In California, the issue of levee integrity and safety is particularly acute," he added. "The 1,600 miles of aging levees in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are part of a unique, valued and vulnerable ecosystem. Two-thirds of Californians get some part of their drinking water from the delta, and $400 billion of the state's annual economy depends on delta water exports. In addition, there is extensive infrastructure and capital investment in the delta, ranging from residential communities, businesses and towns to state highways, rail lines and natural gas fields."
At the Shah lecture, three prominent speakers will address these issues and discuss effective strategies for managing levee risks in California and elsewhere:
The panel will be moderated by Stuart Leavenworth, associate editor of the Sacramento Bee, who produced an award-winning, three-part series on the Sacramento Valley's flood threat in 2004. The Shah Family Fund, named for Professor Emeritus Haresh Shah, former chair of the Stanford Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was established in 1995. It provides annual fellowships for students in civil engineering, an annual prize for an outstanding staff member in the School of Engineering and an annual distinguished lecture on catastrophic risk management and related subjects.
For more information about the May 10 lecture, contact Racquel Hagen at (650) 723-4105 or email@example.com.