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For approximately three decades, the practice of urban stream restoration has been a focus of environmental efforts worldwide. Climate change and weather extremes have placed an increased strain on urban streams, which exacerbates the impact of urban land use. As a result, erosion and sediment are negatively impacting stream stability, water quality, and habitat.

During a recent International Erosion Control Association (IECA) Great Connections Conference, Ivo Lopez, Ph.D., PE, of Snyder & Associates, shared his urban stream restoration expertise with professionals from throughout the Midwest. The presentation, which highlighted tributary work within the Fourmile Creek Watershed, provided key insight into erosion control during construction.

Water Quality Partners & Avid Communication

In the initial stages of stream restoration, Lopez says it’s important to foster strong communication and partnerships with property owners, contractors, city officials, and supporting agencies. Educating the public, leveraging support, securing funds, planning, and design takes time. Once the project has begun, unexpected challenges may arise. A proactive approach to effectively communicate and partner with all vested parties is crucial to overcoming challenges and achieving project success.

Urban Stream Restoration Planning & Preparation

Weather is unpredictable and can have a significant affect on construction progress. However, by planning and preparing, it’s possible to minimize the disturbance of the project site, which reduces weather-related risks that lead to erosion and sediment issues.

9 Ways to Minimize Site Disturbance & Mitigate Risk:

  1. Schedule and sequence work
  2. Utilize erosion controls, such as rock toe protection, riffles, and wattles
  3. Work with and protect existing structures, such as trees
  4. Establish restoration elements such as grading and native landscapes in small sections
  5. Use existing protection elements like riprap
  6. If a storm is imminent, don’t disturb banks or leave loose soil in the channel
  7. Implement temporary stabilization measures ASAP (such as seeding)
  8. Promote overbank infiltration and reduce soil compaction
  9. Verify appropriate measures are used with the support of construction observation and inspection

These measures have been employed on a variety of projects including Noelridge Park and the Squaw Creek Bank Stabilization.

For additional information about erosion control and urban stream restoration, contact Ivo Lopez with Snyder & Associates.