To Do or Not to Do: Caring for the Stream Next to Your Property
Make the most of your location next to a creek by helping to keep it healthy. Through proper care of stream banks and riparian vegetation, you can enhance your property, prevent erosion problems, avoid flood losses, preserve water quality, and contribute to the survival of fish and wildlife.
Use creekwise gardening and landscaping practices
Pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers can run off into the creek. Fertilizers add excess nutrients to natural waters that lead to algae bloom, bad odors, and even fish kills.
Never dispose of lawn clippings in a creek or on a creek bank. Soil and lawn clippings disposed in creeks become unsightly, destroy aquatic habitats, and cause diseases in trees.
Take invasive species out – put local native species in
Native plants and trees which specialize in growing within a creek corridor provide important habitat value unlike many exotic plants.
Native species provide erosion protection during high water flows and generally recover quickly when waters subside.
In times of flooding, a creek bank with native trees and plants may be your property's best protection.
Pave only when necessary
Paved surfaces increase runoff during storms and peak flows in creeks, adding to flooding and erosion problems. Paving also results in lower creek flows during the dry season.
If you are planning to construct walkways, patios, driveways, or stormwater drains, consider alternatives with permeable surfaces to allow more rain water to soak into the ground. Never dispose of concrete, asphalt or other building materials in the creek.
Build away from the creek
Avoid locating structures such as decks, patios and storage sheds near the creek bank. Construction disturbs the soil and vegetation.
Any structure built within reach of flood waters can be damaged or destroyed and may decrease the creek's ability to carry high water safely. It's best to maintain the area in a natural state.
Some communities have creek setbacks which require structures be built at a certain minimum distance from the creek.
Check for erosion regularly and correct problems promptly
Erosion control need not be costly. Consider low-tech, lower-cost, creek-friendly alternatives such as planting with native riparian species to stabilize creek banks.
Direct-seeding or direct-cutting installation of some species is easy and ecological if harvested from your own creek.
The best erosion control is proper creek care along the entire waterway.
It is important for neighbors to cooperate in their efforts and share responsibility for maintaining a healthy creek.
Be sure to seek professional advice and a permit from the water district before taking action.