Although stream bank erosion is a natural process over time, the result can be problematic.
In the Town of Worthington, West Virginia, an eroding river could result in changes to the water flow rates, but more importantly, it could possibly exposure of a vacuum sanitary sewer line.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District is partnering with the Town of Worthington to reclaim an eroded bank along a 1,400-foot stretch of the West Fork River. The more than $880,000 project is designed to protect a sanitary sewer line that runs along the riverbank. The project is being funding in a 35-65 percent split between the City of Worthington and the district.
“The work entails basically clearing and grubbing the entire bank, installing a geo-textile layer down, putting rip rap down at the toe and the bank, and laying some top soil and seed,” Matt McKissick, project engineer, Pittsburgh District.
In addition to the physical work, the team has to consider the environmental aspect of the project.
“Excessive erosion leads to loss of vegetation, woodlands or wetland;, it can also cause a loss of topsoil and habitat, which then pollutes receiving waters and degrades in-streams habitat and aquatic life,” said Rosemary Reilly, biologist U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District.
According to McKissick, a major environmental concern is minimizing the amount of sediment entering the river. He said the crew installed turbidity curtains to any of the areas where the earth is being disturbed to ensure it stays out of the river. Other sediment control measures include erosion control blankets and catch basin inserts.
Additionally, the in-stream work has to be complete before the fish-spawning season, which starts around April 1.
Bob Tramontina, construction control representative Pittsburgh District, said although the West Fork River is smooth flowing, its levels can vary quite a bit.
“The river can change pretty quickly,” Tramontina said. “From day-to-day, they might get 6 to 8 feet difference in water elevation.”
Because of the dynamics of the river, workers have to remain cognizant of the changing levels and be ready to react -- sometimes quickly. Even with the safety challenges, he says the project has been going smoothly.
“Everyone is looking out for each other – we’re keeping the roads clean, the workers are watching for the neighbors, watching the environment; I really think we have a good project going here,” Tramontina said.