HOUGHTON COUNTY — Vegetation is a key element in preventing landslides and erosion but when it comes to road washouts like those seen during the Father’s Day flood there isn’t an easy solution.
Roots help hold soil in place with lightweight and deep rooted plants making good drainage ditch choices but plants can’t be grown in a blacktop.
Not all positive, vegetation can slow down water flowing through a ditch but this raises the water level causing it to overflow on the road, said Brian Barkdoll, civil and environmental engineering professor at Michigan Technological University. Once the ground reaches a certain level of saturation the water isn’t absorbed anymore, development can prevent saturation as well.
When we develop land we put roofs and parking lots and those surfaces don’t allow that water to infiltrate into the soil anymore 100 percent of the water runs off into streams or into sewers so whenever we develop we’re creating more runoff and perhaps flooding.