Stream bank erosion control requires DEQ permit 5.7

Written by David Green.

A local property owner learned last week that action designed to halt stream bank erosion can’t be taken without approval from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

A visitor to Riverside Natural Area last week observed that a driver from a concrete company was dumping broken concrete along the edge of Bean Creek on land adjacent to the park.

The driver said two loads of concrete were delivered and four more were coming. They were to be pushed over the edge of bank where the property owner wanted to halt erosion of the bank.

The park visitor called the DEQ and a representative told the truck driver that a permit was required.

Mary Vanderlaan of the DEQ’s Inland Lakes and Streams division in Jackson explained that a permit is needed when anything is placed below the ordinary high water mark of a natural stream. The top of the bank is generally used to indicate the high water mark.

Additional state law addresses structures placed in a flood plain that could impede the flow of water during a flood event. That might apply to the pile of concrete left at the edge of the bank.

“Preventing erosion from your property is something we permit,” Vanderlaan said. “The question is how it’s going to be done.”

Concrete is less desirable than stone, she said, because it’s less asthetically pleasing. All exposed metal rods must be removed from concrete and a fabric is generally placed under the riprap (concrete pieces). The DEQ also recommends placing riprap on the bank rather than simply pushing it over the edge, in which pieces could tumble down the bank and into the water.

Erosion generally occurs in a curve of a river where water flow increases. A process of erosion and deposition of soil continues until an equilibrium is reached. The process can change a river channel over a period of years.

It’s a natural action of a river, Vanderlaan said, but she understands that property owners sometimes want to halt the erosion of their land.

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