A Project Based Learning Study Oriented to Develop a Natural Stream Restoration Design

Author(s): Ramirez-Avila, J.; Delgado, T.; Buie, T.; Schauwecker, T.; Martin, J.; Ortega-Achury, S.; Czarnecki, J.

The Natural Channel Design (NCD) approach to stream restoration was developed to reproduce the function of natural streams. Headwater tributaries of Catalpa Creek in Mississippi are on an urban fringe and have been experiencing impacts of progressive development over the last decade. The runoff depth and peak flows from stormflow events have increased, inducing incision and streambank erosion. A project-based learning study involving senior and graduate Civil and Environmental Engineering students was developed to determine the hydrologic, hydraulic and geomorphologic functions of different reaches along three tributaries of Catalpa Creek and propose a stream restoration design following the NCD approach. The design considered restoring floodplain connectivity, increasing sinuosity and reducing active erosion. The goal and specific objectives of the study were addressed combining field reconnaissance and detailed data collection, laboratory analysis and computational modeling techniques. Hydraulic, hydrologic and geomorphologic data were collected and analyzed including channel and floodplain survey, flow depth and velocity at different stages, sediment loads, and streambank material. Hydrologic assessments were completed using GIS applications and the HEC-HMS model. The HEC-RAS model was used to assess existing stream conditions and to test the effectiveness of the proposed restoration design, which will include in-stream structures to decrease potential effects of near bank shear. The presentation will detail the characteristics of the proposed restoration design and the learning outcomes from the based learning project.

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