Case study:Restoration of the original riverbed of the Steinbaechlein

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Location: 47° 44' 27", 7° 17' 2"
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Project overview

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Status Complete
Project web site
Themes Economic aspects, Water quality, Urban
Country France
Main contact forename Onema
Main contact surname (Office national de l’eau et des milieux aquatiques)
Main contact user ID
Contact organisation Onema
Contact organisation web site
Partner organisations
Parent multi-site project
This is a parent project
encompassing the following
Project picture

Project summary

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The Steinbaechlein is a 14.5 kilometers long secondary arm of the Doller, the latter having a mainly agricultural 215 km2 wide watershed. In the XIX century, a 400 long meander of the Steinbaechlein was cut in order to provide water to a chemical factory. Following the dismantling of the factory and in the framework of a new business and residential development, the river was returned to its old bed. The work was motivated by the need to increase the available surface for a commercial building and the will to get the river away from polluted soil. The new bed was excavated in the wasteland that had developed in place of the former course of the river. Diversified cross sections and widths were established and the profile was fixed by two sills; helophytes were planted in the banks and in the riverbed along almost all the restored stretch. On the left side of the river a wetland was created, to be used as flood retention area.

Monitoring surveys and results

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No pre-project assessment was carried out. In 2007, electrofishing was conducted by the National Office for Water and Aquatic Environments (ONEMA), showing a good recolonization of the restored stretch by fish; juveniles of trout, target species in the river, were also found. Since then no other monitoring has been done or is foreseen.

Lessons learnt

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Image gallery

The Steinbaechlein in October 2007, two years after restoration.
The Steinbaechlein in summer 2007, three years after restoration.
Development of willows along the Steinbaechlein in summer 2008 upstream of the restored area.
A recreated wetland (summer 2008).

Catchment and subcatchment


River basin district Rhin-Meuse
River basin Rhine


River name Doller
Area category
Area (km2) 215
215 km²
21,500 ha
Maximum altitude category
Maximum altitude (m)
Dominant geology
Ecoregion Western Highlands
Dominant land cover Intensive agriculture (arable)
Waterbody ID


Name Steinbaechlein
WFD water body codes FRCR62
WFD (national) typology
WFD water body name
Pre-project morphology
Reference morphology
Desired post project morphology
Heavily modified water body No
National/international site designation
Local/regional site designations
Protected species present No
Invasive species present No
Species of interest
Dominant hydrology
Dominant substrate
River corridor land use Urban
Average bankfull channel width category
Average bankfull channel width (m) 4
4 m
0.004 km
400 cm
Average bankfull channel depth category
Average bankfull channel depth (m)
Mean discharge category
Mean annual discharge (m3/s) 0.4
0.4 m³/s
400 l/s
Average channel gradient category
Average channel gradient 0.7
Average unit stream power (W/m2) 686.49
686.49 W/m²

Project background

Reach length directly affected (m) 400
400 m
0.4 km
40,000 cm
Project started
Works started 2005/01/01
Works completed 2005/10/31
Project completed
Total cost category
Total cost (k€) 301.86
301.86 k€
301,860 €
Benefit to cost ratio
Funding sources

Cost for project phases

Phase cost category cost exact (k€) Lead organisation Contact forename Contact surname
Investigation and design 1.86
1.86 k€
1,860 €
Office national de l’eau et des milieux aquatiques – service départemental
Stakeholder engagement and communication
Works and works supervision 300
300 k€
300,000 €
Post-project management and maintenance

Reasons for river restoration

Mitigation of a pressure
Hydromorphology Channel pattern/planform
Other reasons for the project increase the available surface for a residencial developpement


Structural measures
Bank/bed modifications Restoring riparian vegetation
Floodplain / River corridor Creation of wetland
Planform / Channel pattern Re-instatement of old course
Non-structural measures
Management interventions
Social measures (incl. engagement)


Hydromorphological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Biological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative
Fish No Yes No Yes No Improvement

Physico-chemical quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Any other monitoring, e.g. social, economic

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Monitoring documents

Additional documents and videos

Additional links and references

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Supplementary Information

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