Florida Rising Magazine FRM April 2019 - Page 30

When development companies design community associations with lakes and stormwater ponds, they envision them as beautiful aquatic resources to attract homeowners, connect with nature and enhance the surrounding property. Without proper management, however, these waterbodies can quickly become eye-sores that produce harmful algae and bad odors, lead to damaged and eroded shorelines, and result in displeased community members.

Most aquatic management professionals will tell you that when a property manager calls about an issue at their waterbody, it’s often past the point of a quick fix. This is regularly the case when we arrive onsite to look at an erosion issue on a lake or pond embankment. Rather than finding a few problematic patches of rock or soil, we discover steep, unstable banks, deep washouts and extensive bottom muck caused by years of sedimentation.

Erosion is a natural process caused by wind, rainfall, poor design, cultural impacts like mowing and recreation, or simply an aging aquatic ecosystem. These erosion issues are all exacerbated by human disturbance. Unfortunately, erosion can also negatively affect your lake, stormwater pond, canal or coastline by causing loss of habitat and property value, nutrient loading, reduced storage volume and waterbody depth, and excess runoff. When topsoil is displaced, stormwater pipes and structures can be exposed and damaged. Overtime, erosion can lead to the formation of trenches and gullies that pose a serious danger to the public.

There are many ways to correct erosion with rip-rap, bulkheads, and other hard armoring systems; in certain situations, they may be the preferred option. In my experience, however, reestablishing the embankment utilizing vegetation, whether turf grass for recreation or native vegetation for habitat, has always been an excellent way to halt erosion and enhance community waterbodies.

There are several best management practices that can help stop erosion and establish vegetation, but a lot of them have a shorter life-span or planting restrictions. Fortunately, there is a new solution available for both the immediate and long-term stabilization of shorelines and hillsides.

Bioengineered living shorelines are the latest technology in erosion control. These patented woven systems offer an innovative, environmentally-friendly solution to immediately stop shoreline and embankment erosion and create a natural foundation for vegetation. The most effective systems available are designed using a combination of ecofriendly, biodegradable burlap sock-like fabric and heavy-duty knitted mesh. The socks can be filled with local pond muck and sediment, which is why many property managers choose to pair this solution with proactive hydro-raking projects. After the woven mesh systems are filled, they are then secured to the embankment and can be immediately sodded, planted with native beneficial buffer plants, or seeded through the mesh and fabric layers.

As an Environmental Scientist, I’ve utilized several different shoreline restoration techniques over the years, but this innovative system is certainly creating some excitement! It provides immediate stabilization while effectively filtering and buffering run-off water, removing harmful contaminants and benefiting waterways and water quality, all the while providing a seamless planting platform and long-lasting erosion control. Restored banks and hillsides can be walked on within just a few days, making bioengineered shorelines a fast, aesthetically-pleasing and long-lasting solution for most properties.

Bioengineered Living Shorelines the Newest Erosion Control Solution

J. Wesley Allen, Environmental Scientist and Regional Manager at SOLitude Lake Management

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