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Stream Restoration Bioengineered Retaining Walls for Riverbank Stabilization

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Course Length: 1 Hour

This webinar is a continuation of an introduction to stream restoration for technical professionals and is organized in a manner that does not require attendance of each webinar in this series. The principles of stable channel form and sediment transport are highlighted in this webinar while providing a greater level of detail about how these principles are critical for successful bioengineered bank stabilization. Example projects and project decision criteria are presented to demonstrate the practical challenges that arise in project implementation.

Purpose and Background

As bioengineering and stream/river restoration has gained popularity as a sustainable design alternative to traditional "hard" river engineering, softer solutions are increasingly a part of many design solutions. The use of bioengineering in combination with more traditional geotechnical methods to stabilize riverbanks in a manner that is similar to tradition retaining walls offers river engineers and scientist an alternative to rigid methods of bank stabilization that can create many unintended and adverse effects to the processes in a river system. On large rivers, bluffs or mass wasting banks of extreme heights can be particularly challenging to stabilize and are significant contributors of excess sediments in impaired systems. Spot stabilization of areas of major erosion may be all that is required or that time and budgets allow  on many project sites. Bioengineered solutions on these key areas offer the ability to resist or resolve the hydraulic forces or the river while mitigating for slope stability problems.

Primary Discussion Topics

  • Overview of the principles of stream restoration and how it fits within the larger context of other types of projects
  • Stable channel form – dynamic equilibrium
  • Basic principles of bioengineered wall design
  • Drainage layer considerations
  • Wall base design- draining materials, toe wood, combinations
  • Need for stability analysis
  • Long term goal of vegetative stability
  • Wall geometry and river position
  • Considerations and guidance for design implementation
  • Lessons learned from case studies of multiple projects

Learning Outcomes/Benefits

  • Gain a basic understanding of the physical principles of bioengineered wall design
  • Enhance your design options with bioengineering methods on erosive or mass wasting banks
  • Develop an awareness of the complexity of the internal and external challenges of “green walls”
  • Become familiar with various types of sites and potential solutions
  • Learn from the lessons of implemented projects

Intended Audience 

  • Professional Engineers
  • Environmental Scientist/ Ecologist
  • Geologist and Geographers
  • Planning professionals
  • Engineers in Training who have a basic understanding of engineering design, bid-document preparation and construction practices
  • Students of engineering, geology and environmental disciplines

Webinar Outline

  • Overview of geomorphology natural channel stability
  • Why implement a bioengineered wall
  • General design considerations
  • Various configurations in different physical settings
  • Options on shorter and taller walls
  • In context of larger restoration efforts
  • Why you involved your geotechnical engineers
  • Getting it put onto to paper
  • Lessons learned from case studies
  • Design examples of what works