Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2018TN134B

Rethinking Bank Stabilization in Tennessee to Develop a Classification Protocol for Agriculture and Urbanized Systems

Institute: Tennessee
Year Established: 2018 Start Date: 2018-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $16,533 Total Non-Federal Funds: $41,753

Principal Investigators: Thanos Papanicolaou, John Schwartz, Christopher Wilson

Abstract: Bank stabilization in Tennessee is a concern for landowners, city managers, governmental agencies, and engineering consulting firms. Although many bank stabilization methods currently exist, the decision-making process for selecting the most optimal method has not been addressed fully due to the complex interactions between streams and uplands that are continuously changing under human modifications and climate non-stationarity. There is a critical need in Tennessee to develop a classification protocol that is science-based for selecting the most suitable bank stabilization method depending on site characteristics. This classification protocol will identify the stabilization methods that can work under the range of stream power values for a given channel reach, as well as provide guidelines to state agencies regarding the selection and placement of the possible mitigation strategies. It will also suggest the most optimal method, among those that may work, based on soil type, vegetation, environmental needs, failure risk, cost, and human disturbance, such as intense agriculture or increased urbanization. In this study, we will take the first steps for developing a classification protocol for Tennessee by conducting an extensive literature review. The review will focus on not only the current geomorphic rapid channel assessments and available bank stabilization approaches, but also the expected ranges of stream flow conditions where these methods will work. In addition, the review will be conducted to identify potential criteria that can be used to assess bank stability. This information will go into developing a flow chart that can be used to select certain practices for a particular reach. This project innovatively uses improved assessment and evaluation techniques coupled with more quantitative parameters like stream power to identify if bank bio-based stabilization techniques and stream restoration designs can be incorporated. As a result, this classification scheme for the state of Tennessee suggest bank stabilization methods within an ecological and geomorphic context that will result in improved ecological outcomes and at a lower cost.