Stream Maintenance Guidelines


Guide for Working in Kentucky Stream Channels & Wetlands

Permits are required for digging, trenching, dumping, dredging, clearing, and operating equipment in or near a creek, wetland, lake, or near a sinkhole, because:

• Dumping material into a stream or changing the banks or channel can cause flooding

• Changing the flow of a stream can cause rapid erosion of downstream property

• Digging or operating equipment in a stream or wetland causes sediment pollution

• Muddy water caused by in-stream work is harmful to fish and other creek life

• Water treatment plant filters are clogged more often by high-sediment water

• Possible adverse impacts on adjacent properties or infrastructure That’s why working in the channel – within the banks – or in a wetland or sinkhole drain requires one or more permits.

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) issues permits for the placement of dredged or fill material into the “waters of the United States,” which include rivers, lakes, wetlands, streams, sinkholes, and their tributaries.

The DOW is also involved, because that agency has to certify that the USACE permit will not harm water quality. DOW also issues permits for construction within the floodplain or stream, and for all projects that disturb one acre or more. Local agencies also require permits for land disturbance activities.

Link to the comprehensive 64-page guide Guide for Working in Kentucky Stream Channels and Wetlands.

 


 

DOW Guidelines for One-step Removal of Stream Flow Obstructions

This Kentucky Division of Water (DOW) guidance provides descriptions of stream obstruction conditions and one-step removal practices which involve removing materials before placing them outside of the channel and floodplain. Materials should never be stockpiled in the stream channel, stream banks or floodplain.

Link to Guidelines for One-Step Removal of Stream Flow Obstructions_May2016.docx (ky.gov)

 


 

Stream Maintenance – Guidelines for Stream Obstruction Removal – FAQ 2017

October 2017

This 8-page Frequently Asked Questions developed by the KDOW is a must read.  Log jams, fallen trees, sediment (silt, sand and/or gravel), debris, and other materials can build up and obstruct flow in ditches, streams, culverts, and under bridges during and after periods of heavy rainfall.  These obstructions may create an increased risk of flooding, property and infrastructure damage, and result in erosion and increased sedimentation.  Removing stream obstructions is a temporary solution; streams naturally deposit sediment and form meanders during periods of high flow.

Natural debris and sediment play important roles in aquatic ecosystems.  If done improperly or excessively, removing stream obstructions may have negative impacts on-site, upstream, and downstream of where the obstructions are being removed.  The answers provided in this FAQ outline common best practices for stream obstruction removal.

Link to:  Stream Maintenance- Guidelines for Stream Obstruction Removal – FAQ 2017.

 


Stream Maintenance Guide FAQ

Log jams, fallen trees, sediment (silt, sand and/or gravel), debris, and other materials can build up and obstruct flow in ditches, streams, culverts, and under bridges during and after periods of heavy rainfall.  These obstructions may create an increased risk of flooding, property and infrastructure damage, and result in erosion and increased sedimentation.  Removing stream obstructions is a temporary solution; streams naturally deposit sediment and form meanders during periods of high flow.  Natural debris and sediment play important roles in aquatic ecosystems.  If done improperly or excessively, removing stream obstructions may have negative impacts on -site, upstream, and downstream of where the obstructions are being removed. 

The answers provided in this FAQ outline common best practices for stream obstruction removal.  Link to:  Stream Maintenance Guide.

 


 

KDOW Publishes Tool to Help Landowners Understand Stream Obstruction Removal

September 2017

We all live downstream.  This means that the usability of the water available to us is determined by our upstream neighbors.  Certain activities in and around streams require permits, especially if there is an impact to a wetland, floodplain, or the water quality of a given area.  However, if you follow some simple guidelines and best practices, you may work in streams without obtaining a permit from the Kentucky Division of Water or the US Army Corps of Engineers.

In September 2017, the DOW published a web resource that details some of the commonly occurring situations where you can work in the stream without obtaining a permit.  This handy two-page document can also be prined as a poster.

Link to Stream Maintenance Poster.

The site includes a “Guidelines for Stream Obstruction Removal” brochure, a FAQ sheet, and links to mapping tools that can help you determine if your stream has any special requirements.  To learn more check out the website.

 


Gravel Removal from Streams

January 2017

Reports of excessive gravel removal from Kentucky streams have prompted the DOW to reiterate creek gravel extraction guidelines to minimize impacts on the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the waterway.  Creek gravel is used by road departments, construction companies, and private landowners in a variety of ways.  The size, shape, hardness, and chemical composition of stream gravel make the gravel ideal for use in concrete. 

Link to One page Fact Sheet –  Gravel Removal from Streams.

 

Guidelines for Gravel Excavation and Removal

February 2019

The excavation and removal of gravel can result in serious stream impacts by eliminating aquatic habitat and by causing channel instability if done incorrectly.  Many streams are too small to accommodate gravel excavation in an environmentally sound manner.  Keep in mind that removing point bars will do little to improve stream flow or stabilize stream banks.  Likewise, pushing creek rock onto stream banks will not provide long-term bank stabilization.  In-stream activities that significantly increase sedimentation or alter stream flow are violations of state water quality standards and may be subject to enforcement action.

Link to One page Fact SheetGuidelines for Gravel Excavation and Removal_February_2019.