University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


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DNR Grants Permit for Chippewa River Bank Stabilization Project
New Design a Result of Cooperative Efforts

 MAILED:  Aug. 22, 2003

EAU CLAIRE — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has granted the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire a permit to stabilize a portion of the Chippewa River riverbank that runs through campus. The permit was granted Aug. 19 by Daniel Koich, DNR West Central Region Water Management Specialist.

The project will reinforce approximately 1,200 feet of the riverbank along Garfield Avenue from the university pedestrian bridge to the Putnam Park parking lot. The project is necessary because of a history of erosion of the riverbank as well as concerns for public safety and damage to the university’s infrastructure along that stretch of the river that could result from a potential collapse of the bank under certain conditions.

“This project will ensure a stable Chippewa River riverbank for future generations, protecting public safety and property while also being sensitive to the natural environment of the river,” Chancellor Donald Mash said.

Three independent studies, the most recent conducted by internationally known geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineer Tuncer Edil, determined that a riverbank collapse following a 100 - year flood event is a probability.

The project, designed to have minimal intrusion into the river and minimal impact on flood levels, will include removal of existing concrete rubble and vegetation, installation of geopiers to stabilize the bank, grading in excess of 10,000 square feet, placing rock riprap on the bank of the river, and planting new, non-invasive native vegetation.

Ayres Associates, headquartered in Eau Claire is the project’s design engineering firm and the contractor is Steffes Construction of Eden, Wis. The project will be managed and supervised by the Wisconsin Department of Administration - Division of State Facilities. Estimated cost is $1 million. No start date for the construction has been determined.

Granting of the permit is the end result of a process that began in early 2000. An original design was submitted to the DNR for a riprap permit on Feb. 7, 2001, and Public Notice made June 10. After receiving input from neighborhood organizations and other interested parties raising concerns about several aspects of the original design, university officials, engineers from Ayres Associates and representatives of Steffes Construction and the DNR worked cooperatively with objectors to resolve concerns within revised design parameters specified by the DNR.

A third study (by Tuncer Edil) concluded there is a probability of riverbank collapse following a 100 - year flood. More than a dozen public hearings and meetings were held to answer questions, listen to concerns, exchange ideas and review alternative designs.

In March 2003 a new design, significantly different from the original was selected and presented to the public. The permit granted by the DNR is based on the latest design.

“We’re pleased,” director of Facilities Planning and Management Terry Classen said. “We like the latest design and now we have a permit to construct it.”

“It has been a long and, at times, difficult process but one that has resulted in an improved design that effectively addresses the concerns of the university, the neighborhoods and community,” Vice Chancellor of Business and Student Services Andrew Soll said.


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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741

Updated: August 22, 2003