One of the biggest threats to the long-term health of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s creeks is bank erosion.
This tributary to McDowell Creek is badly eroded
You’ve probably seen creek banks that look like this.
Eroded creek banks cost you money in higher
Storm Water Services fees and even higher
water bills. Creek bank erosion also literally eats
away at the land.
Why creek bank erosion is getting worse
As development increases, there is less open
space to absorb rainfall. Excess storm water
flows across parking lots and streets into storm
drains which are piped directly to creeks.
In recent years, the amount of water being carried by local creeks after heavy rain has increased substantially. The speed at which the water flows has also increased.
Fast-moving water eats away soil from at bottom and sides of the creek. As the soil is washed away, tree roots have little to hold on to. Eventually, the weakened trees fall down and even more of the creek
bank is exposed to the erosive force of the fast-moving water. The wearing away of the natural creek banks is called scouring.
This section of Four Mile Creek is
nearly blocked by sediment
Sediment is one of the most common pollutants in
Charlotte-Mecklenburg creeks. Much of the sediment
in the creek water comes from bank erosion. Muddy
water is not healthy for fish or other aquatic life.
When the bits of soil and mud eventually fall to the
bottom of the stream bed, the sediment can kill eggs
and insects important to the food chain. Large
amounts of sediment can even change the path of the stream.
Muddy streams eventually empty into lakes that supply drinking water for our region.
Controlling creek bank erosion
Planting vegetation along creeks can help reduce erosion. On the other hand, removing plants from
creek banks (clear-cutting) damages the environment without measurably reducing flooding.
Storm Water Services works to stabilize and restore eroded creek banks.
Report creek bank erosion
Sediment and Erosion Control