How are river banks being protected?

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Sedimentation and erosion of river banks may be natural processes, but they are speeding up by our actions - intentionally or unintentionally. The direct impacts of erosion of river banks include the destruction and uprooting of the riverine plant life and trampling of livestock. The indirect effects on the other hand, include the widening of channels due to the hydrologic alterations that occur in the watershed.

The damages that pile up are too detrimental to be ignored and thus protective measures need to be taken to protect river banks. River bank protection refers to the building of resistance along the river to prevent erosion and flooding. Here are some protection techniques that can be implemented for the preservation of riverbanks.

1. Natural methods of protecting river banks

The first step towards protecting a natural resource is to come up with environmental friendly ideas. These natural methods involve the use of eco-friendly products that degrade naturally overtime and help give stability to the soil until vegetation takes their place. Some natural products are:

  • Coir logs - The coconut coir logs have a large diameter and successfully allow the vegetation to take root.
  • Erosion control mats -Erosion control coir mats are produced using an open weave design and support the production of vegetation before and after it is applied.

Some of the advantages of using natural fibres to protect riverbanks include the guaranteed safety of the marine and wild life. They also stabilise the banks and support growth of vegetation.

2. Levees

Levee refers to a wall or a slope that is either natural or man-made and helps regulating the water levels. Levees are built parallel to the river flow. They provide solid support against floods and high water levels, and prevent soil erosion from occurring along the riverbanks. Levees are also known for regulating the flow of water by confining it, which results in a faster current.

3. Reno Mattresses

A Reno Mattress is a rectangular mattress-shaped segmented basket made up of a mesh of galvanized steel wire that is twisted double and woven. Each section is of equal size and the diaphragms placed inside provide an even dispersal of stone fill across the mattress. This even scattering ensures that the Reno Mattress is constantly in contact with the groundwork soil.

Maccaferri Reno Mattresses® are stone filled river bank protection structures that are flexible and permeable, and prevent erosion from leaving unfixable damages. The wide diameter of the wire in the mesh panel edges assists in reinforcing the entire structure. You can view these Reno Mattresses here:

4. Revetment

Revetments are sloping structures that are placed on the river banks to absorb energy of the incoming flow of water. Revetments are usually installed for protection against erosion. These sloping constructions help in the prevention of damage caused by floods or continuous spells of heavy rain.

5. Geotextiles

Geotextiles are textile materials that are permeable and help in significantly increasing the stability of soil and in controlling the erosion occurring on the river banks.

6. Bioengineering

The use of wood and living vegetation is yet another environment-friendly method of protecting river banks. Bioengineering is considerably less expensive as compared to other riverbank protection techniques due to the involvement of locally sourced materials and the labour required as well as the cost of maintenance.

A drawback to this type of riverbank protection is that the entire protection wall takes several seasons to be properly established, but the fact that it requires no professional source of maintenance or re-generation heightens its appeal as a solution to riverbank erosion.

7. Groins

Groins are mostly submerged in water and are built from a river bank to interrupt the water flow and limit the continuous movement of the sediments. Groins are helpful in the prevention of erosion and in improving the navigation and control of erosion i.e. a result of the meandering of the river.

It is apparent that there are various ways through which river banks can be protected from erosion. River banks need to be protected from destruction caused by both man and nature. The solutions mentioned above will help in successfully catering to the dilemmas that may wreck irreparable havoc in the future.

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