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Flooding and Aggradation Means Rehabilitation for Historic VA Stream

History of Back Creek:

Roanoke County used to be dense with forest and log cabins. Now, the county is a sprawling suburb, but it wasn't always like that. In the late 1740's, Europeans first settled along the banks of Back Creek in southwest Roanoke County. In time, a state highway replaced the dense forest and modern commercial developments took the place of the log cabins. With the change in developed land coverage, also known as impervious surface, a change to the stream occurred as well. Over time, the existing stream meandered against the roadside and banks eroded to a point of instability.

Present day Back Creek:

Late last year the Richmond-based crew at EQR transformed this stream from a public safety hazard to a stable ecological asset. The Virginia Department of Transportation teamed with EQR and Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. (Stantec) to restore and re-align approximately 1,480 linear feet of Back Creek, a branch of the Roanoke River in Botetourt County, Virginia. This project included the restoration and re-alignment of three tributaries, off Route 640 (Lithia Road) within a 13.84 square mile watershed.

This wasn't the first time that repairs were made to the stream. In January 2013, a deflector log was installed to alleviate impairments, but instead caused further sedimentation and increased flood frequency. Aggradation coupled with heavy precipitation events caused frequent road flooding and structural damages that required an immediate and permanent solution.

EQR and Stantec created a sustainable solution to the problems, by adjusting the stream profile, stabilizing eroding banks, and creating adjacent floodplains using Natural Channel Design (NCD) techniques. The original channel was back-filled, and flow was redirected during construction using a double 12” pump around. The new channel was shifted over 100’ laterally to the south, and graded to a new bankfull width of over 40’. The crew also installed a variety of riffles, log vanes, rock toes, rock sills, and a wood toe structure to manage stream flow during storm events, create a variety of habitats for aquatic life, and restore the natural hydrologic stream balance.

EQR’s crew faced many challenges on site, including rocky soils, hidden bedrock, and percolating groundwater, and ultimately prevailed to successfully create a diverse valley bottom ecosystem that deflects stream flow away from the road and creates a safer environment for residents.

Contact EQR:

As environmental construction experts for over 26 years, Environmental Quality Resources is proud of our mission of working outdoors to preserve and protect our watershed in a positive way.  Visit us online or give us a call at (410) -923-8680 to get more information and see if we are what you’re looking for. Looking to see what we are currently working on and more about our company?  Follow us on FacebookInstagramLinkedInTwitter, and YouTube!


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