Saturday, January 24, 2009

Stream & Wetland Restoration

This semester I am taking a Stream & Wetland Restoration class. In it, we focus on a local watershed and work on restoring streams to their natural conditions, or a condition that resembles natural. Last Monday, MLK day, the temperature was around 28 degrees F, and the previous days had been the coldest in Kentucky history for several years back. We had to perform a basic pebble count on the stream on that day. A pebble count allows the engineer to see how the stream is transporting sediment and rocks down the system. To perform the test, a riffle of a stream is selected. Using a grid approach, a number of rocks/pebbles are collected and the diameter is measured. The diameter must be not the largest or smallest of the rock, but the mid size diameter. For our lab, 400 pebbles were collected.

The water was so cold that after 5 or 6 pebbles were collected, our hands were numb and feeling was impossible. We had to stick our bare hands into the frigid waters repeatedly and measure the diameter. Then we would classify the rock (silt, sand, pebble, cobble, boulder) and pitch it in the opposite direction. There was also large sections of the stream with inch+ thickness of ice on it, which we traversed on and broke to collect rocks. It was reminiscent of being a child, playing on ice and snow. Extremely cold and numbing, but fun.

The class looks to be informative, and most of the time should be spent out on the stream we are working on. We'll be dealing with bank erosion problems, unnatural cuts and irregular meanders, and who knows what else. I think the class will be exciting, but I can't wait until it warms up a bit.


Sailor Matt said...

Bless you and your classmates. I simply wouldn't have the patience for collecting, classifying and monitoring 400 pebbles in an icy river.

Was this class a requirement, or an engineering elective?

logankstewart said...

Thank you for the blessing, Matt. It took patience and a strong will power to make my freezing/burning/numb hand to dip back into the water. The class was one I chose to take, but my major requires 15 hrs of 600 level classes, and there aren't very many 600 level classes, so this was one I thought sounded pretty good. And since I'm also getting an Environmental Certificate with my major, I thought this would be helpful.