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Streambank Erosion and How We Can Prevent It
Streambank Erosion and How We Can Prevent It

Keeping our water systems clean and free of debris should be a significant concern for those who manage the properties and infrastructures of a town or city. While there are methods that keep stormwater at bay, like permeable pavement and underground detention systems, sometimes simple construction and development can affect nearby water sources. For example, creeks or streams running through your community. A significant concern for every property owner with water flowing through their land is streambank erosion.

What is Streambank Erosion?

Streambank erosion is an incredibly common phenomenon in communities with lakes, rivers, creeks and streams. Simply put, streambank erosion is when the flow of water becomes too powerful for the banks of a creek or stream to contain. As a result, the water will carry sediments and debris from the streambank and into primary sources of water. Streambanks become weak due to the force of water flow or the loss of vegetation around the sides of the water.

How Does Streambank Erosion Occur?

Sometimes, the natural changes in temperature, water flow or the environment lend to the occurrence of streambank erosion. However, in the case of property development, human-made structures also contribute to the effects of erosion. It can be as simple as a shift in the soil due to construction that causes plant life along the banks of a stream to recede. Other times, dams and levees, which can reroute and increase the flow of water, can cause significant erosion to occur.

Top Concerns of Streambank Erosion

You might be wondering, “So what if streambank erosion occurs? Nature is always changing!” While this may be a true sentiment, streambank erosion can be more harmful than you initially realize.

  • Harmful Algal Blooms – Algae growth is a regular occurrence for any body of water. However, too many algae growing, called “harmful algal bloom,” can produce excess toxins in a body of water. Thus, the water becomes unhealthy for fish, wildlife and humans. The increase in the growth of algae has been linked to high amounts of phosphorus in the water. In turn, the source of this phosphorus comes from streambank erosion.
  • Interferes with Wildlife – Additionally, the fallen debris and soil into a creek or stream can vastly change the ecosystem. Fish may no longer be able to grow and thrive, and various plant life may cease to be. Thus, wildlife becomes displaced, looking for another source of food and water.
  • Unstable Ground – The land around creeks and streams can also become dangerous to be around as streambank erosion occurs. When plants begin to disappear, their roots no longer hold soil into place. As a result, the ground near streams becomes unstable and more prone to mudslides or landslides in lousy weather.

How Can We Prevent Streambank Erosion?

Although streambank erosion is a problem that plagues most any property with water running through it, it’s a problem that can be resolved with some focused attention. Overall, by addressing the leading causes of streambank erosion, we  can reverse and eventually repair it.

  • New Planting – In the absence of plant life, we can attempt to restore vegetation around a stream or creek’s banks. The roots of vegetation strengthen the soil and prevent it from being carried away by the flow of water.
  • Strengthening of Banks – If new plant life doesn’t seem to be taking hold, strengthening the banks of the streams via more manual methods may become necessary. By incorporating rock riprap (rock buildups on the banks), gabions (rocks in wire baskets on the sides of a stream) and other methods, the soil will no longer fall away from the banks.
  • Reducing the Flow – If the cause of streambank erosion are human-made structures redirecting the flow of water, more strategically placed structures can be the solution. Using rocks and logs does more to create a natural reroute of water and can stabilize the flow of a stream to be less detrimental to its banks.

Erosion Prevention Strategies from Professionals

Ultimately, hiring the right company to address your streambank erosion is the best method for ensuring you can truly resolve the issue. Thankfully, Austin Engineering is well versed in all manner of erosion prevention. Our knowledge of landscape design and water management have made us the choice company for creating efficient water control systems. If you want to get a handle on your streambank erosion right away, allow our civil engineers and landscape architects to help you with your property.

To learn more about water erosion and the effects it can have on the environment, give the professionals at Austin Engineering a call. You can contact us today at 309-228-9553. Also, our headquarters is located at 311 SW Water St, Ste 215, Peoria, IL 61602.