We note the draft language in Montana DNRC’s 2012 Model Floodplain Ordinance requiring that “a licensed professional engineer” (P.E.) design all stream restoration and bank stabilization projects undertaken in Montana. While engineering is an important professional discipline, the proposed rule as written would greatly diminish the vital roles played by hydrologists, fluvial geomorphologists, sedimentologists, ecologists, and the other skilled scientists in this important work. Further, it’s very important to understand that there is no consistent requirement in a professional engineer’s academic training or in Montana’s P.E. certification criteria that would dictate the attainment of specific skills for stream bank stabilization and restoration.
Decades of misguided, hard-engineering attempts to force natural stream systems into unnatural configurations have resulted in unhealthy, armored floodplains along many of our nation’s streams, including in Montana. History will likely describe our time as a period of human failure – the failure to understand and the failure to accommodate the most basic ecological needs and functions of our precious water resources. These waters and their floodplains serve a broad host of ecological services for humans and wildlife, providing biodiversity, aquifer recharge and carbon sequestration. Without the protection of these basic functions, we will pass to the next generation a tarnished legacy of damaged and destroyed resources.
Any successful stream restoration or bank stabilization project requires a multi-disciplinary or inter-disciplinary team of scientists and technicians to ensure success. THI would suggest that granting a design monopoly for stream bank stabilization and river restoration to engineers may simply expose many P.E.’s to increased liability due to a general lack of direct experience in these applications.
Anyone interested in the future of Montana’s Floodplains, Rivers and Wetlands should comment on Montana DNRC’s 2012 Model Floodplain Ordinance now: Traci Sears phone: 406-444‐6654, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
>>Read the Montana DNRC’s 2012 Model Floodplain Ordinance http://dnrc.mt.gov/wrd/water_op/floodplain/news/draft_model_ordinance.pdf