California Department of Transportation

Erosion Control and Stormwater Research

Erosion Control

Erosion Control and Stormwater Pollution prevention Best Management Practices (BMPs) are studied to protect roadsides, comply with National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit requirements and integrate stormwater pollution prevention activities with the roadside environment.

Ornamental Biostrips and Bioswales for Storm Water Treatment, Final Report

This report documents stormwater treatment performance for ornamental types of vegetation in strips and swales designed in accordance with the Caltrans Highway Design Manual (HDM) and the Project Planning and Design Guide (PPDG). The Appendices for this document are also avaialble for review.


From July 2004 through December 2011, the Department implemented a Quality Assurance (QA) seed testing program to ensure seed material applied on projects conforms to the project specifications and erosion control requirements.


Stormwater infiltration was studied on four different Hydrologic Soil Groups treated with incorporated compost.

Rainfall Simulation 10: Erosion Control and Vegetation Cover Performance of Cotton, Straw, Paper and Wood Hydromulch Types Under Simulated Rainfall, 2010

Cotton, paper, straw and wood were evaluated to statistically test whether a specific fiber type provides significantly better erosion control, significantly better vegetative cover, or both.

Model Guided Specification for Using Compost to Promote Establishment of Vegetation and Stormwater Quality Improvements, 2010

This study establishes parameters for compost use based on performance criteria including soil type, climate, slope length and steepness, aspect, and location. The research addresses how compost affects water quality and erosion, and if compost improves the establishment of permanent vegetation cover.

Arid Region Non vegetative Permanent Erosion Control, 2010 Summary Report

This study executes the "Study Plan and Experimental Design for Non-Vegetative Erosion Control in Arid Regions" (CTSW-RT-02-038) Caltrans developed in 2002 for evaluating the performance of non-vegetative permanent soil stabilizers on reducing soil erosion and their potential impacts on storm water quality.

Monitoring and Assessment of Erosion COntrol Treatments in and Around the Lake Tahoe Basin, 2009

Vegetation, soil and erosion control treatments and materials are evaluated in comparison trials at various locations in the Tahoe Basin.

Roadside Erosion Control Management Study (RECM) 2008

This study provides research, expertise, services, training, computer tools and products that will enhance the Department's ability to improve its erosion control practices and vegetation establishment.

Providing Adequate Moisture for Plant Establishment under Reduced Irrigation, 2008

Water use requirements are evaluated for roadside plantings and alternative methods are developed for plant establishment on newly constructed sites with less or no supplemental water from irrigation.

Performance of Erosion Control Treatments on Reapplied Topsoil, 2005

During 2003-2004, two experiments were performed that have direct relevance to projected revegetation during phases of the Route 46 Corridor Improvement Project, San Luis Obispo County, scheduled to begin construction in summer 20007. The goals of these experiments were to find effective erosion control treatments in conjunction with topsoil reapplication.

Effective Planting Techniques to Minimize Erosion, 2004

The study provides results identifying planting techniques that may be best suited for establishing native vegetation on disturbed soils and for improving water quality. The best performing combinations of treatments were identified based on their ability to produce a high percentage of vegetation cover, increase species diversity, reduce runoff, and decrease sediment yield

The Use of Compost and Co-Compost as a Primary Erosion Control Material, 2002

This study evaluates use of compost as a primary erosion control material. Examples of beneficial use of compost amendments for control of erosion at field sites are provided. A statewide survey of compost producers was undertaken to characterize the compost material that would be available for procurement and application to Caltrans projects. The findings support the use of compost as a primary erosion control and soil amendment.

Vegetation Establishment for Erosion Control Under Simulated Rainfall, 2002

Treatments were conducted in soil test boxes set at a 2:1 (H:V) slope. Erosion control treatments included combinations of five erosion control materials. Boxes were planted with the same native seed mix that included shrubs, forbs, and grasses. Erosion control effectiveness was evaluated.

Rainfall Simulation: Evaluating Hyroseeding & Plug Planting for Erosion Control & Improved Water Quality, 2002

These studies identify and select plant species that demonstrate initial fast growth and potential long-term erosion control under a variety of rainfall regimes and erosion control treatments to improve water quality. The plants examined in these studies include both native and non-native naturalized species.

District 5 Advisory Guide to Plant Species Selection for Erosion Control, 2001

This prototype guide is an aid to landscape architects, biologist, or other personnel responsible for specifying plant species for erosion control. This hard-copy guide presents data tables reformatted from a geographic information system (GIS) that synthesize district-level data from five counties (Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara) that constitute District 5.