Erosion of unprotected levee banks decreases their structural integrity and increases the likelihood of failure. Several types of restoration structures for levee protection and stabilization have been used in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, California, to reduce erosion. The purpose of this paper is to describe the results of a field experiment designed to measure the effectiveness of organic restoration structures (brush bundles) in altering the hydrodynamic regime in the vicinity of levees, with specific focus on changes in boat wake energy. Two simple hypotheses were tested: 1) restoration structures reduce boat wake energy, and 2) energy reduction is dependent on water depth. Field work was conducted August 29–31, 2000 on Georgiana Slough, which is a tidally influenced (spring tidal range of 2 meters) distributary of the Sacramento River. Pressure sensors were deployed offshore and landward of the restoration structures. Data collection occurred with the bundles in place and with them removed. Boat wakes were generated during rising and falling tides to capture the effects of fluctuating water levels. Wakes were characterized by index wave height, period and energy. Comparing sample means of normalized energy with the bundles removed and with the bundles in place revealed a 60% reduction of energy by the bundles. It was also determined that energy reduction was tidally, or depth dependent. The reduction of energy by the structures indicates that they are an effective method to protect against boat-wake induced, levee erosion.
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