The goal for any channel project should be to leave, enhance, or establish a channel that is connected to an active floodplain. In a ditch system, the channel is called the inset channel. In a natural system, where the channel is attached to an active floodplain it is called the bankfull channel. If the bankfull channel becomes detached from the floodplain it is called an incised channel.
The main differences in enhancement approaches are associated with: (1) the space provided for the floodplain; (2) how the inset/bankfull channel is established; (3) the dimension, pattern and profile of the inset/bankfull channel; and (4) what measures are taken to stabilize the system.
The approach selected depends on a variety of factors based on site-specific information and project goals including, but not limited to: a real or perceived problem being caused by the system (i.e., meander migration), available funding, meeting state or federal regulations, site-specific conditions, willing landowners, acute toxic problems, reducing flooding or erosion, promoting agriculture, development or industry, or protecting native species and habitats.
Common approaches for channel projects include Do Nothing, a Self-Forming Channel, a Two-Stage Ditch, and a Constructed Channel. For a factsheet on selecting a channel management strategy click here.