Maintaining Water Frontage
Is Your Lake Cove or Dock Filling in with Sediment?
By Rich Mogensen (Posted July 10, 2020)
These days we love to live on the water. Whether it is a freshwater lake, a flowing river, or the ocean, we just love our water frontage. These properties are developing at an accelerating rate. In the Charlotte area, there is Lake Norman, Mountain Island Lake, Lake Wylie, and Lake James. In the greater Greenville area, the lakes include Keowee and Jocassee in the hill country, Hartwell and Greenwood in the southern piedmont, and Murray and Wateree close to Columbia. Many other lakes, such as Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie, are found along the coast as well.
If you are lucky enough to live on a freshwater lake or a smaller body of water, you surely value water quality and your ability to use your dock or lake frontage. That ability may start to come under the threat of that evil material called “sediment.”
Sediment, actually, is just dirt (sand, silt, clay) that is carried by flowing water. It is completely natural when kept to a normal bedload with normal runoff conditions. Unfortunately, we don’t seem to have either of those variables in the Carolinas anymore.
Erosion is a natural process that is always occurring. Take, for example, the Appalachian Mountains. The Appalachians used to be the highest mountain range on the planet, and now they are mostly just the particles that make up the beautiful beach sands of the Outer Banks. With that in mind, you can go to the mountains and the beach at the same time!
I’m off course here. But back to the point of this blog.
You may notice more sediment and “bad” erosion problems occurring these days, especially in those aforementioned freshwater lakes. We are really good at building lakes but not so good at maintaining them. We are seeing more and more of these situations, especially in lakes with new development around them.
The streams in the Charlotte area are not in good shape and are often eroding badly, which provides a consistent supply of sediment. In addition to heavier storm events due to climate change, more development of upstream impervious surfaces is adding to the problems. As the stream banks erode and overwhelm their ability to pass the sediment, the streams get clogged. If they pass the sediment, it has to go somewhere.
That somewhere is often a lake cove or arm where a smaller tributary has acted as a conduit of sediment to the lake. Lakes are seeing more and more sediment build up along the shore, particularly at the confluence of small unnamed or named tributaries. This is where the water slows down and the sediment drops out. Often these sediment plumes can lower property values, prevent docks from functioning as designed, and degrade overall water quality.
Larger lakes are often managed by utility companies and/or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Others are owned by state parks or industry such as Alcoa in North Carolina. Many times, these larger entities have very strict rules regarding dredging sediment and often prohibit dredging more than 10 feet away from a dock. Smaller amenity lakes are undergoing similar issues and struggle to find dredging contractors willing to mobilize and to clean up smaller sediment plumes.
One answer is to be proactive and prevent the sediment buildup in the first place. That can be done by limiting watershed overdevelopment, ensuring stormwater management is strictly enforced, and performing stream restoration projects.
SynTerra has developed the expertise to analyze your erosion problems, determine causes, and come up with cost-effective solutions. Let us help solve your sedimentation and stream bank issues and send us an email today.