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Hugulkultur and an intermittent channel

 
Posts: 15
Location: Provo, UT
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Hello!

This is my first post. I've been reading a bit on here, and I decided it was finally time to ask a question.

I'll be working on some land that has an intermittent channel running through it. I've never actually seen the channel carry water, but I'm pretty sure it was designed to do so.  I was thinking I might be able to use hugulkultur beds as a way to slow and spread any water that does come through. I could use it as a full check dam, but I was thinking it might be better to make the water snake its way through the channel, directing it with the beds. Has anyone considered something like this? A leaky dam may also be a viable option.

Some details:
The channel comes from the mouth of a canyon coming off of a mountain. The channel further up the mountain likely doesn't exceed 5 feet in width. The bed of the channel on the property is about 20 feet wide. The banks then rise up 20-30 feet over another 20-30 feet of width. So this channel is way bigger than anything else around. I've never seen water flowing, though that may change after this winter when the snow melts. I'm in Provo, Utah. The length of channel on the property is about 1400 feet. About half the channel has a slope of 2-12° while the other half has a slope of 12-18°. The channel banks are eroding a bit, so I'm going to try and work stabilization into the design as well.

Here are my thoughts--hugulkultur beds can absorb a ton of water. Water is one of my biggest concerns for this property. This channel is fairly protected from wind and excessive sun, so it should be easier to retain the water in that area, particularly if all the water that falls there gets sucked into hugulkulturs. I imagine the hugulkulturs will be a temporary feature (on the scale of years or decades) but it seems like it could work on the short term, and may even benefit the channel long term by decreasing erosion. I'd love to hear feedback on why this would or would not work
 
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Kyle, welcome to the forum!

Where I live we have what are called wet weather creeks.

During normal times they are dry creek beds though when it rains they become torrential raging rivers.

I would suggest observing the channel when there is a hard rain.  It is my suspicion that if you built hugelkultur beds they might get washed away.

What I would do in this situation is to build what are known as "check dams" and brush dams".  A search of the forums will give you some information on these.

Here are some threads that I found that might help:

https://permies.com/t/51421/Creek-repair-brush-dams

https://permies.com/t/53556/Creek-repair-rock-dams

https://permies.com/t/142672/slow-storm-water-flow-culvert
 
Kyle Clawson
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Location: Provo, UT
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Thanks! I was thinking some sort of leaky dam might be appropriate. I would just really love to utilize that area more, as I suspect it stays a bit wetter and is more sheltered from summer sun (though possibly also winter sun). These both seem like pretty easy strategies to implement, as well. Just pile up some brush or rocks--boom, slowing water.

 
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Some images would help a lot.
It sounds like an enormous area of erosion.
The secret with this type of ground is to slow the water down, and its done with a combination of a lot of different techniques.
- try and revegetate some areas with deep rooted grasses
- build low rock walls about 3 feet thick along the direction of flow and only 12 inches high [ to reduce tendency for water to wash them away.
- construct them close enough so that the bottom of the upstream wall is level with the top of the lower wall.
- this will create steps down the canyon that will fill with sediment and rocks, but more importantly its changing the grade of the canyon, and slow the water down.
- Its the velocity of the water that does the damage by picking up the soil, pebbles and big rocks if the flow is high enough. I have seen boulders as big as a house roll down a channel!, pysh by flood waters
- over time plants may establish enough in those steps to hold it all in place
 
Kyle Clawson
Posts: 15
Location: Provo, UT
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Good idea, John. I'll take some photos and a video. I think that will help
 
Kyle Clawson
Posts: 15
Location: Provo, UT
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I'm going to try and attach some pictures that I took today, as well as what I've whipped up on QGIS. Is it better to host photos somewhere else and then reference them here?

Here is what I noticed today:

As I walk through the channel, I notice that there is some channelization happening, but only in part of the channel, as featured here:





So vegetation seems to grow more abundantly where the water is flowing more directly. It might be nice to spread that out via a leaky dam. There is actually a ton of vegetation growing up in the upper portion of the channel, right before the property line ends. This channel clearly hasn't had significant flow for a while. However, if there is going to be flow, about 450 acres empties through this channel. So perhaps one day in the future the flow will be big.
Channel-Pic-Map.png
This is a map that shows the slope and contour lines of the channel. I believe the contours are set at 3 m.
This is a map that shows the slope and contour lines of the channel. I believe the contours are set at 3 m.
IMG_3919.jpeg
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