The Buttahatchie River Stabilization Project

Author(s): Maurer, B.

The Buttahatchie River watershed is recognized by local and regional scientists, conservationists, and outdoors people for its ecological significance, especially the unique biological diversity found and documented in this system (Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, 2005). Mussel surveys, conducted by O'Neil et al (2004; 69 FR 40084), and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks (2004) have documented viable communities of rare mussel species along several reaches of the Buttahatchie River and some of its major tributaries. In addition, rare and unique fish communities and species have been reported from the Buttahatchie River system (Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, 2005). In an unpublished survey (Hicks 2004) of 23 biological experts in Mississippi, the Buttahatchie River ranked second behind the Pascagoula River out of 14 rivers in Mississippi in terms of priority for conservation and ecological significance (Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, 2005).

However, the lower reaches of the river have undergone wholesale channel adjustments in recent years, including widening, rapid erosion, quarry capture, and excess sediment. Erosion and excess sediment continue to be a problem in this area. The Stability Analysis of the Buttahatchie River by USDA National Sedimentation Laboratory (2005) cites disturbances including meander cutoffs, construction of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway (including the impoundment of the Columbus pool), and gravel-mine capture.

The Buttahatchie River Stabilization Project was completed by The Nature Conservancy and partners in October, 2010 , to demonstrate techniques to reduce non-point source (NPS) pollution within the Buttahatchie River Watershed, specifically NPS resulting from eroding river banks. The project was supported by a Section 319 Grant, and used several Best Management Practices (BMPs) designed to show habitat-oriented options to riverbank stabilization. Located in Lowndes County, Mississippi, the project met several important goals. Most immediately, it stabilized a rapidly eroding river bank and prevented thousands of cubic yards of soil from washing into the river. In the long term it is expected that the river bed in this area will also become more stable, and this will allow for improved habitat for fish, aquatic invertebrates, mussels, and other benthic organisms.

It also created an open-air educational site that demonstrates several useful stabilization BMPs and sets of techniques. This unique setting allows for the comparison of various techniques in one location.

The presentation will describe the individual BMPs, their installation process, and the resulting improvements to the river bank.
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Technical Sessions

1 Best Management Practices #1
2 Delta Water Assessment
3 Flood Assessment & Mgmt.
4 Wetlands
5 Watershed Mgmt. #1
6 Non-Point Source Assessment
7 Modeling
8 Water Quality
9 Best Mgt. Practices #2
10 Delta Water Conservation
11 Sedimentation
12 Storm Water
13 Watershed Mgt. #2
14 Public Water Systems
15 Surface Water Assessment & Evaluation

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