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The Restoration of Coldwater Fork Using the Reference Reach Approach

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  701P0904,  . (doi: 10.13031/2013.17409)
Authors:   J. George Athanasakes, and Michael F. Adams, Jr.
Keywords:   Natural channel design, dimensionless ratios, reference reach, sediment transport competency equations.

A coal slurry release from the Big Branch Slurry Impoundment on October 11, 2000 resulted in the flow of approximately 300 million gallons of slurry into the Coldwater Fork watershed. Emergency response to this spill required pumping of slurry and the use of excavators. Efforts were made to maintain the pre-spill channel configuration of Coldwater Fork during the clean up; however, portions of the creek were realigned. Since the slurry release, significant portions of Coldwater Fork have exhibited recovery including the reestablishment of pools and riffles, gravel substrate and macroinvertebrates. At the downstream limits of the project, a series of head-cuts formed which threatened to destabilize recovering portions of the creek. A head-cut also formed near the confluence with Lynn Bark Branch.

The stream restoration design focused on minimizing reworking of the stream in areas exhibiting good natural recovery, and restoring destabilized areas using natural channel design techniques. Channel dimensions developed from reference reach data were used to design two areas where the channel alignment and geometry were altered during the slurry cleanup. The appropriate use of the reference reach was validated by simulating a design on the reference reach to verify sediment transport competency equations would accurately predict the mean depth required to pass the sediment delivered to the stream. This paper will discuss the design and construction of this project with emphasis on use of the reference reach approach and sediment transport competency calculations for design.

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