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Soil Bioengineering Design Methods Aid Environmental Sensitivity STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO As Landscape Architects may well know, soil bioengineering is becoming more common these days in light of the growing environmental sensitivity towards society's streams and rivers. According to the International Erosion Control Association (IECA), bioengineering methods tend to improve the ecological function of rivers and reduce the visual disturbance caused by restoration projects. IECA member Christoph Gerstrageser of Vienna, Austria recently presented his research to the organization. To gain more data on the resistance of soil bioengineering methods, researchers at the Department of Soil Bioengineering of the University of Vienna built a test flume in March 1996 that is situated in the bed of the Viennese Wienfluss River. The flume is about 170 meters long and utilizes seven different bioengineering constructions. The left and right sides are separated so that each side can be flooded separately. Between July 1996 and June 1997, four artificial floodings were administered. Then, the flume was tested by a natural flood in July 1997 by a natural flood that normally occurs every 50-100 years. This flood disaster destroyed two thirds of the flume, and the right half was rebuilt in March 1998. Through these flood discharges, the researchers have been able to examine the different bioengineering techniques and their effectiveness and resistance. Currently, the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) Subcommittee D18.25 has appointed Robbin B. Sotir as chair for the new Bioengineering Standard. ASTM will be working over the next few months to collect technical participation from engineers and Landscape Architects in the erosion control industry. Concurrently, Tom Crosky, chair of IECA's Committee on Standards is working on terminology for Bioengineering/Biotechnical Erosion Control. For more information or to participate, contact IECA at 800-455-4322. Streambanks and levees are subjected to erosion and scour by flowing water. The erosive power of flowing water increases with velocity. Soil bioengineering techniques include the placement of natural, vegetative products like coir or coconut fiber to physically restrain or hold soil particles in place.

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June 16, 2019, 10:26 pm PDT

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