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Grade Control Structure

Grade Control Structure








Earthen, wooden, concrete or other structure built within a natural or man made channel to prevent gully development and bed erosion while improving water quality and habitat conditions.

How it works

A grade control structure is used to stabilize a stream, grassed waterway, or gully to reduce channel bed erosion. This practice is used at sites where the flow velocity or the concentration of water in a channel or gully requires a structure to stabilize the grade or to prevent head cuts from migrating upstream.

How it helps

  • Stabilizes the grade and controls erosion in natural or artificial channels
  • Prevents gully head cut formation and channel bed erosion by lowering water in a controlled manner
  • Enhances environmental quality and reduces pollution hazards
  • Manages channel flow line for non-erosion benefits, including fish passage, water table control, and reduced turbidity

Planning ahead

  • Are ESA considerations or special permits required?
  • Are adequate conservation practices installed above the structure to prevent sedimentation?
  • Is the planned location in the proper place to achieve the level of control you want?

Technical notes

  • Ask your conservation planner for design and construction specifications.
  • The landowner must obtain any necessary easements or permits.


  • Avoid operating farm equipment too close to the structure.
  • Maintain good vegetative cover on all slopes and water courses.
  • Control livestock access to the structure.
  • Remove debris accumulation at the structure and immediately upstream or downstream.
  • Keep burrowing animals off earthen structures.
  • Keep outlets free of debris.