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Moving a Stream: The Restoration of Little Catoctin Creek

Little Catoctin Creek, located in Frederick County, is getting a major restoration. This project calls for the stabilization and relocation of approximately 2900 linear feet of Little Catoctin Creek downstream of Maryland Route 180. Little Catoctin Creek is a direct tributary to the Potomac River.

The overall design approach is to utilize stream and floodplain restoration to create an ecologically diverse valley bottom ecosystem, which maintains stability though native wetland vegetation and provides greatly increased sediment and nutrient processing. Stream and floodplain restoration provides a significant opportunity to restore currently impaired, vital ecosystems by returning hydrologic, hydraulic, geomorphic, physio-chemical and biological functions to undeveloped land within the 100-year floodplain.

EQR will be constructing the creek in seven different phases starting upstream and working our way down stream. The main objective is to fill in the heavily eroded stream and construct a new channel about 50’ parallel to the old stream. We will redirect the old channel to the new channel until the water is flowing entirely through the new channel and the old channel is back-filled and graded out. The creek flows through farmland, so we will be installing an electric cattle fence as well as a watering trough that will work via gravity. The watering trough is simply a reinforced concrete pipe 9’ in the ground with a PVC pipe running downhill to a trough. This will allow ground water to be collected and flow downhill into the watering trough from which the cattle will drink.

This project is unique because USGS (The United States Geological Survey) has been collecting samples and running tests on the water to see how much sediment flows through during construction. The purpose of this is to test erosion and sediment controls to see if they are effective.

The project is very simple, relocating the heavily eroded stream about 50’, but takes a lot of work and a year to complete.


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