Excessive sediment is a major pollutant to surface waters worldwide. In some watersheds, streambanks are a significant source of this sediment, leading to the expenditure of billions of dollars in stabilization projects. Although costly streambank stabilization projects have been implemented worldwide, long-term monitoring to quantify their success is lacking. There is a critical need to document the long-term success of streambank restoration projects. The objectives of this research were to (1) quantify streambank retreat before and after the stabilization of 18 streambanks on the Cedar River in North Central Nebraska, USA; (2) assess the impact of a large flood event; and (3) determine the most cost-efficient stabilization practice. The stabilized streambanks included jetties (10), rock-toe protection (1), slope reduction/gravel bank (1), a retaining wall (1), rock vanes (2), and tree revetments (3). Streambank retreat and accumulation were quantified using aerial images from 1993 to 2016. Though streambank retreat has been significant throughout the study period, a breached dam in 2010 caused major flooding and streambank erosion on the Cedar River. This large-scale flood enabled us to quantify the effect of one extreme event and evaluate the effectiveness of the stabilized streambanks. With a 70% success rate, jetties were the most cost-efficient practice and yielded the most deposition. If minimal risk is unacceptable, a more costly yet immobile practice such as a gravel bank or retaining wall is recommended.
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