American and Dutch experts to discuss risk of catastrophic levee failure in California

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. PDT (10:30 p/m. EDT) 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.

Panelists will hold a press conference at 1:30 p.m. PDT (4:30 p.m. EDT), May 10, at the Blume Earthquake Engineering Center, Building 540, 439 Panama Mall on the Stanford campus.

"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 professor, by courtesy, 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."

The press conference and lecture feature three prominent speakers, who will discuss effective strategies for managing levee risks in California and elsewhere:

  • Gerald Galloway, research professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Maryland and a retired brigadier general with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will discuss the unacceptable flood risks t

Contact: Mark Shwartz
Stanford University

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