When planning any kind of construction or industrial activity, it is important to consider the surrounding area. The natural vegetated areas that surround rivers, streams, lakes, or other waterways are known as riparian areas. These zones are very important to the waterbodies that they surround. They generally have high soil moisture, a high infiltration capacity, and an abundance of different plants and wildlife. A lot of places have rules and regulations in place to protect riparian areas because of the value they bring to entire watershed systems.
Riparian areas serve to protect not only the local water quality, but also the entire downstream system. Some positive things that riparian zones provide for the local ecosystem include the filtering out of pollutants, stabilization of slopes to minimize erosion, reduction of flooding, provision of food sources and habitat for wildlife, protection of wetlands, and the replenishment of groundwater sources.
Planning to work with a natural buffer created by a riparian zone not only maintains valuable habitat, it can also work in your favor when it comes to managing your site. These areas help immensely when it comes to protecting waterways, preventing erosion, and managing runoff. The fact that the riparian zone is there automatically provides you with a vegetative buffer that you don’t need to install through expensive sodding or seeding, so all you need to do is determine the right buffer size and keep your site from expanding past the allowable area. States, counties, or even municipalities may all have their own individual requirements for a buffer you would need to maintain anyways.
Accounting for a riparian zone in your site plans can go a long way to help keep structural BMP cost down, while also making you an advocate for your local environment. Planning around these areas can do an incredible amount of good not only for you, but also for your community. To learn more about riparian zones and how to effectively use them for stormwater or erosion management, be sure to reach out to your local environmental consultants.