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Stream, River Bed, and Bank Erosion Control Training

Leading Methodology for Stream Stabilization and Restoration

Published Nov. 21, 2012
Students participate in on-site field work as part of Streambank Erosion and Protection training.

Students participate in on-site field work as part of Streambank Erosion and Protection training.

Throughout the United States, aggressive land development projects have raised the issue of environmental protection and habitat restoration to new heights. Never before has the value and use of land and water played such an important part in the dialogue between developers and environmental conservationists.

Enhancing Value Through Sustained Environmental Integrity

As the value of land in and around streambanks has increased, engineers at the ERDC Coastal & Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL) have responded to the need for effective stream erosion control and bed and bank protection training and techniques.

Streambank Erosion and Protection, PROSPECT Course #285 offers the latest innovative solutions, practical knowledge and design considerations in river mechanics, geomorphology, and streambank protection and associated erosion control.

The benefits of stream stabilization and restoration include improved aquatic and riparian habitat, greater ecosystem functionality, decreased maintenance costs, better access and safety for recreational users, and enhanced property values.

Training Overview

CHL engineers conduct the streambank erosion control and protection training workshop twice annually at the CHL laboratory in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Thirty-six hours in length, the training targets project managers, planners, technicians, engineers, biologists, designers, regulators and other personnel involved in Section 14, 1135, and 206 projects.

Streambank Erosion and Protection, PROSPECT Course #285 is a series of lectures, field exercises and on-site trainee team-developed designs. Additional areas of knowledge include:

  • Fundamentals of fluvial geomorphology and river mechanics
  • Hydraulic and geotechnical processes and causes of streambank erosion and failure
  • Streambed degradation protection measures, including grade control structures and design
  • Geotechnical considerations and design
  • Environmental considerations for working design protection
  • Overview and design criteria of streambank protection measures
  • Techniques to analyze and select appropriate protection methods
  • Erosion control in high velocity channels
  • Construction, monitoring, maintenance, and repair of streambank protection projects
  • Reconnaissance of a streambank erosion problem (pre-trip planning, gage data and aerial photography analysis, equipment needs, safety aspects, information gathering and measurement techniques)
  • Hands-on engineering critique and evaluations from leading CHL experts, including analyses of successful and unsuccessful projects, reviews of upcoming/ongoing trainee projects, and open forums for discussion and questions)

Providing Hands-On Training for Real-World Analysis

An important part of the class is a half-day field trip to investigate a local stream. Students will be required to climb streambanks and wade approximately one mile of stream over a period of two-to-three hours. Field equipment is provided. However trainees must bring appropriate field clothes, a windbreaker and rain gear.

Trainees receive hands-on training and experience with the best tools available in current multipurpose erosion control, stream restoration, and habitat improvement projects, including:

  • Bendway Weirs—Series of upstream-angled low-elevation stone sills designed to control and redirect currents and velocities throughout a bend (and the immediate downstream crossing) of a river or stream
  • Bioengineering Techniques—Vegetated and soil-choked fill stone and peaked stone, live siltation, slit brush layering, willow curtains, Living Dikes and willow poles
  • Stabilization Enhancements—Soil-choked and vegetated riprap, shadow-wall bank stabilization, hydraulic cover stones, exclusionary vegetation, locked logs, whole tree transplantation and erosion control seeding
  • Biotechnical Methods—Riprap blankets, trench fill and windrow revetments, dikes, retards, proprietary methods, LUNKERS, adjustable longitudinal peaked stone toe and encapsulated earth

At the conclusion of this course the student will be able to:

  • Organize, prepare, and conduct a field analysis of a streambank erosion problem
  • Review and analyze several alternative bank protection treatments
  • Select the most effective treatment, (or combination of treatments) taking into consideration the expected engineering performance, environmental ramifications, and cost effectiveness of the project
  • Develop a long-term monitoring, maintenance and repair plan for the project

Streambank Erosion and Protection, PROSPECT Course #285 is open to federal nominees assigned (a) Occupational Series: Selected 0000-0100, 0400, 0800, 1300 and (b) Grade GS-05 or above. The series is available on DVD.

For more information on Stream, River Bed, and Bank Erosion Control Training, visit CHL online.

Success Stories

Eighteenmile Creek Habitat Restoration Project: The project area is a tributary to Lake Ontario and is a highly productive cold-water fishery. Restoration involved improved public access resulting in an average of 11,000 fishermen per year, streambank stabilization, aquatic habitat enhancement, and improved riparian corridor function, including restoration of native plant communities and wildlife habitat. Tasks included threatened and endangered species surveys, construction oversight and community education.  Twenty-eight methods and techniques were used to achieve project functions and goals.

The completed project was awarded the New York State Governor’s Waterfront ReDiscovery Award and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services (New York State) Team Excellence Award.

Cattaraugus Creek at Savage Road, Springville, New York: An innovative bridge and road protection project where the top of the eroding bank was within 25 feet of the toe of the roadbed slope. Over 600 feet long, the project was designed to employ a low-elevation, level-crested, vegetated (joint planting, live poles, streamside shrubs, vines), launchable Longitudinal Peaked Stone Toe Protection (LPSTP) with vegetated keyways and tie-backs, vegetated LPSTP, with a well-vegetated landward flood bench employing live siltation, living dikes, rooted stock plants, transplantation of a large portion of the point bar willow population, and other assorted bioengineering techniques. For roughness and hydraulic energy dissipation and improved hydraulic habitat, locked logs, rock vanes, bendway weirs and innovative use of both Large Woody Debris (LWD) and Small Woody Debris (SWD) were employed. A wetland and vernal pool were constructed on the floodplain bench.

Monkey Run upstream of State Highway 98, Wyoming County, near Arcade, New York: A dual purpose demonstration stream and riparian corridor restoration project, and also railroad track protection project. Active headcuts are incising sections of the stream (hydraulically disconnecting the stream from its historic floodplain). The stream is also over-widened by approximately one-third (Channel Evolution Model Type III). This project employed vegetated LPSTP, vegetated keys, engineered rocked riffle solid sill grade control, a realigned, remeandered main channel (six bends and five riffles compared to two bends previous), pole planting, live staking, live siltation, vegetated benches, transplantation of willow trees with root mass intact as both Extreme Living Dikes and Extreme Living Retards, rooted stock plantings, instant shade, lowered floodplain benches, engineered access for the landowner, and locked limbs and locked logs.

Contact, 309-794-5885
Research Physical Scientist
Updated 26 August 2020

River Engineering Branch (CEERD-HFR)
US Army Engineer Research and Development Center | Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory