Napa was once a community that struggled to develop because it constantly flooded. From 1961-1997, a total of 19 floods caused more than $542 million in residential property damage alone.
So the community decided to do something about it. Rather than take the conventional route — by building levees and directing the river straight through town — Napa reduced the threat of flooding by restoring the river to its natural state. Its innovative approach was founded on a set of “living river” principles that include:
- Reconnecting the river to its historic flood plain.
- Maintaining the natural curves, slope, and width of the river.
- Restoring the riparian and wetland habitat.
- Maintaining natural channel features such as mudflats, shallows, and sandbars.
Although it’s still an ongoing project, Napa County is successfully transforming the river to a self-sustaining eco-system that will no longer cause such catastrophic floods. The region has experienced tremendous growth since then and the river has become a nice attraction for the area.