How Would You Solve This Controversial Erosion Problem?

After removing dangerous trees, more work needs to be done. In a region that gets 44 inches of rain a year, how would you solve this erosion problem?

How Would You Address This Urban Erosion Post Logging? (YouTube, 10:46)

Water streams down from three houses—more than 12,000 gallons per rain event. It's what caused the original trees to be dangerous.

Every time it rained, soil washed into a nearby stream. Trees would fall over. Within three years, four trees fell on nearby homes. Removing large aged-out trees was the only solution.

When you remove trees from your land, that's only the start. Reestablishing an erosion-stable slope is critical.

What's controversial about this project was the shock some neighbors had with trees removed. Almost a half acre went from 30-year old forest to grasslands.

This is why it was important to get written permission from every neighbor. Also to go over the design and what to expect. The majority of neighbors were happy with the project.

There were even plans for a community garden shared between several neighbors. However, that's not possible with the erosion and possible sewage leakage.

For this project, there was also confirmation that fallen trees damaged sewer lines. We weren't sure until the trees were removed. But that's sewage in the discolored water.

Another challenge was the natural springs that exist on the property, both up-slope from where trees were removed and where the lower detention pond is today.

What To Do After Removing Trees On An Urban Property

Without trees water streamed down the hill from three houses. There were also the pre-existing stormwater surges from road run off more than 100 feet in elevation.

What do you do with all this water? According to the Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Forestry Service, slope stabilization includes terracing.

Being an urban space, a dramatic yet necessary solution can be controversial. This solution was also done on the neighboring property; will it work here?

In this video, you'll notice black corrugated drain pipes from each house upslope. This water was collected in a basin to slow down water flow.

Yes, It Was Raw Sewage And It Had To Be Fixed NOW

Once it was confirmed by a camera down the sewer line and by testing leaking sewage, additional work was necessary. The Forester made it clear, “If that's sewage, the EPA will fine you.

The timber part of this project, to remove trees, has many protections to prevent erosion. A road, small terraces, the water basin, and a large brush dam.

Unfortunately, with sewage, more needed to be done. It wasn't a lot of sewage, but 50-year old clay sewer pipes full of roots repair now or large fines later.

It was recommended to use terraces or swales to slow and spread water. The earthworks terraces works best if you have slopes. According to the watershed calculations, the terraces and basins must be significant.

There is also a sewer main, and the impact of excavating old sewer lines should be considered. If it isn't one thing, it is another.

Why Most Large Land Projects Are NOT Do-It-Yourself

The project was designed by a professional engineer, the work done by loggers with State and Federal licensing. Grading and excavation done by an insured contractor.

With all the precautions, expertise, and equipment the technical elements of the project worked as planned. Zero soil was lost to the creek behind the houses. Water was detained to soak into the ground, or evaporate.

That's why it is critical to learn how to manage land projects. Because this project had multiple phases, these adjustments could be made. The unexpected variable had to do with the City itself.

However, that's a lesson for another time. Without the professional help this kind of project could turn into a muddy mess. The work was done once, done right, and will last another 50-years.

How would you have handled this water problem? Would you risk a fine from the Environmental Protection Agency, or would you use advice from earthworks engineers?

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