Santa Clara River Soil Cement Bank Protection

Los Angeles County, CA

The Santa Clara River is one of the few remaining “natural” dry-rivers in Los Angeles County, and the community and environmental agencies are determined to keep it as “natural” as possible, while still providing appropriate flood protection for the area. Concerned about the lack of environmental sensitivity inherent to traditional methods of bank protection, a superior alternative of bank protection was sought for the Santa Clara River and its tributaries PACE facilitated the groundbreaking use of soil cement as a means of flood control along the Santa Clara River and within Los Angeles County.  To date, PACE has planned, designed and managed construction of 33,000 lf (250,000 CY) of soil cement bank protection and currently is in the design phase for another 36,000 lf (280,000 CY). The project success is due to a combination of innovative engineering, use of cost effective design and construction materials and methods, and multiple stakeholders’ participation, including Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, environmental resource agencies and the general public.

Soil cement was implemented as an equal, if not superior alternative to traditional bank protection applications (i.e. concrete or rip-rap). In addition to the flood protection and erosion control benefits, soil cement has numerous other advantages including:


  • Construction costs savings of 40 to 60% over conventional bank protection methods.
  • 30-50% reduction in construction time as compared to conventional bank protection methods.


  • Buried soil cement bank protection reduces environmental impact and allows for natural vegetation establishment.
  • Exposed soil cement or future exposure of soil cement will provide a natural embankment stabilization appearance.


  • The stepped soil cement face provides improved public access out of the riverbank in event of an emergency.
  • Creates a stabilized overbank area by reducing flow depths and velocities at riverbanks.


  • Reduced habitat disturbance and excavation as a result of the setback and buried soil cement bank protection.
  • Use of native material (approximately 90%) results in less trucking of material to the project site, and consequently less road traffic, pollution and mining of natural resources.


  • Soil cement is a durable and non-erosive bank stabilization system.
  • 8-foot wide placement of soil cement results in a stable structure.