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A Regionally-calibrated Approach to ‘Channel Protection Controls’—How Meeting New Stormwater Regulations Can Improve Stream Stability and Protect Urban Infrastructure

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This paper presents a review of so-called ‘channel protection controls’—stormwater controls designed to protect against downstream channel erosion. I continue by defining the problem of unprotected channels in that improperly controlled stormwater runoff causes or exacerbates stream channel instability in many settings. This is particularly problematic in urban/suburban settings, because unstable channels impact adjacent infrastructure. Both fluvial geomorphic process and the case studies cited herein suggest a need for a regionally-calibrated approach to channel protection policies. That is, policies should be optimized for the receiving streams of a given jurisdiction. By beginning with a fluvial geomorphic audit of a utility's streams, an agency may estimate the flow that can be conveyed without exacerbating channel erosion in their stream networks. The field assessment may also identify a range of susceptibilities across various regional settings that should be incorporated into planning and design. The benefits of such a science-based calibration effort include developing a policy that 1) has a high probability of meeting the goal of channel protection, 2) doing so in a way that is both defensible and cost effective for their service area, 3) providing aquatic habitat, water quality, and ecosystem benefits throughout their stream networks, and 4) prolongs the life of otherwise imperiled urban infrastructure.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-01-01

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