The flow of water will gradually erode streambanks. Certain management activities can speed up erosion. They include removing stream-side vegetation and straightening streams, which increases water velocity. The effects of erosion can be felt far downstream, as sediments are carried and ultimately deposited into lakes and other bodies of water.
However, the loss of streambanks can be prevented. The Illinois Department of Agriculture partners with local Soil & Water Conservation Districts and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to offer cost-share and technical support to landowners. The program uses inexpensive vegetative and bio-engineering techniques to limit streambank erosion. Find out more about their program here.
- The state of Michigan has a document on streambank stabilization, found here.
- Iowa State University offers “how to” information on streambank stabilization, found here.
In the video below, a Piatt County farmer adds limestone rocks to the base of the channel to stabilize the bank. Vegetation is now able to grow on the upper portion of the bank, which will help to reduce nutrient losses. The benefits can be measured as far away as Lake Decatur – about 30 miles from this stream. Reductions in sediment and nutrient contributions improve water quality, maintain the lake's depth, and reduce the chance of flooding.