Some background, so I work for and go to school at West Virginia University and I have been subcontracted to work with the DEP on stream management and analysis for the entire state. My most recent project has been to create buffers around streams leading to surface water intakes in order to help monitor chemical spills and also regulate tanks used by oil and gas companies.
My problem is that when creating the buffers around the streams I failed to include elevation and slope when calculating the distance of the buffers from the stream center (left and right banks for major rivers). My idea is to take the buffers I have (~160 of them) and make them flexible to reflect the topography because 1000 ft linearly looks a lot different than when that same 1000 ft would "decay" because of the topography and slope. I imagine my buffers being able to snap to contour lines to limit the planar length and reflect the topography.
I'm also wondering if using any tools in the 3D analyst would be of use, tools such as 3D length...I'm just not sure.
I'm aware that this could be solved by re delineating these buffers by working out of grid and also using cost-path but I would like to save myself the trouble of having to do these again since the entire project took about 6 months due to tedious calculations and attributions.
I am using Arc Map 10.3 and surrounding software.