Even After Major Storm Event, Little Catoctin Stream Project Still Going Strong

The Little Catoctin Stream Project in Frederick County, MD is a site that has endured the worst of Maryland's extreme weather in 2018. Yet thanks to hard work, the stream project is back on track to being one of the most innovative and successful stream restoration projects to date.


On May 15th, 2018, a devastating storm event swept through the area, leaving much of Frederick and Little Catoctin Creek under a torrent of water. The half-mile mat path EQR constructed was swept away, leaving some mats one mile downstream. At the upstream end of the project, Jefferson Pike was also partially washed away, resulting in a swift water rescue of a driver swept off of the road and an assist from the EQR team in excavating a vehicle that was buried in sediment. The storm caused major flooding throughout the site and required intensive maintenance and re-work. Flows in the creek were so high that the USGS gauge station located onsite was broken by the high flows that are estimated to be 300 times the normal baseflow discharge rate. Fortunately, our partners at MDSHA and JMT were not daunted, and together we worked as a team to find solutions and complete the job efficiently. The Little Catoctin Stream Restoration Project has seen its fair share of challenges. But despite its tribulations, the project is nearing completion, leaving the restored stream with a connected floodplain and a new, healthier stream channel.


EQR began the Little Catoctin Project in 2018 and persevered through seven different phases of restoration. The primary restoration work consisted of creating approximately 3000 linear feet of new stream channel and removing over 40,000 cubic yards of dirt from the site to create a lower, wider floodplain. The project follows the principles of Legacy Sediment Removal or Valley Restoration in connecting a large, wide floodplain with a sinuous, shallow channel. The pre-restoration Little Catoctin Creek had highly eroded banks and a deeply incised stream channel, leading to large sediment discharges that introduced high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous pollution into the receiving waters. Through its seven phases of construction, EQR navigated the old stream channel into the newly created channel in each phase. Additionally, EQR installed crossvanes at the end of the site, a large plunge pool at the beginning of the site, 4 tributary connections, and 3 oxbow pools in the floodplain area.


Now, in 2019, the Little Catoctin Stream has a healthier stream channel and a larger floodplain to absorb flow during major storm events. EQR is in the final stages of the project, planting native vegetation to encourage biodiversity. We're thankful that even with flooding and setbacks, the EQR, MDSHA, and JMT teams persevered, and the Little Catoctin Stream Restoration Project will turn out to be an ecological success.

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