Know Your Limits
How complicated is the impacted water system you have been tasked to repair? Should construction designs be creating projects that move rivers or impact large natural water systems where bulkheads and seawalls and gabions are needed? Before your project begins, ask if the new development can be relocated to avoid disturbing a complex water system. Or, when impacts cannot be avoided, research if enough land or right of way can be purchased to allow for gentle and reasonable mitigation solutions rather than huge walls and massive stone mattresses. If you are asked to provide mitigation for a river or an intricate waterfall, then it is a good time to stop and evaluate your capabilities.
If the impact is unavoidable, then the job may have overwhelming physical obstacles. It is wise to call in experienced civil engineers and a design firm that specializes in huge, complex projects of this nature. They need to be willing to visit the site. Large water volumes and both surface and subsurface grade changes are involved. Sometimes it is wise, as a designer, to walk away from a project. Not everyone is good at this, and the consequences can be catastrophic if handled casually.
You can proceed confidently with smaller mitigation projects that require only vegetative planting, as long as you receive good guidance from experienced restoration experts. Whenever we, as designers, have control over how grading for development takes place, we should make every effort to design new contours that can be established easily with native plant material, without the need for structural marvels of engineering. Using vegetation to mitigate stream impacts is the preferred method, and the least expensive.
The agencies to which you submit mitigation design proposals will review your work, but you are the ultimate responsible party for your design, with all the liability that comes with it. Get help if you think you need it.
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