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Earthworks in areas with high water tables

 
Posts: 153
Location: Davie, Fl
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We have a 5 acre property that receives 58" of rain a year, can flood, and has a water table around 3' from the surface in some areas on the farm. There is a pond in the center of the property, and a canal on the east edge of the property. We are in the subtropics and receive slightly less than 80% of our water during the wet season.

We want to install swales, diversion channels, and check dams through out this very flat property that was once the Everglades in South Florida. When this area of the Everglades was drained back in the 50s, it left very rich muck through out the area. Unfortunately, the area that we are in is old everglades, turned farm land, and now being developed into strip malls. However, because of this we have access to large amounts of rich soil, and we've already received 3,000 yards to help raise up certain areas that we are adding slope to so we can decide how to use earth works.

As I mentioned, the water table is already really high so I am curious how we would benefit or not from swales to collect water. I imagine alot of the water that doesn't evaporate goes into the soil anyways since it puddles through out. By grading the area when we add the soil and collecting it in certain areas we have the benefit of creating microclimates throughout.

Any advice on how to work it would be great.
J
 
Posts: 156
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I would use that high water table as an advantage.
Chinampas systems.
It's kind of hard for me to say much w/out pictures and maps (visit makes it even better).
If water is that high, not sure you would need swales for water collection, I would think having dry tree roots is more of a challenge than soaking water into the landscape, since it is always?/already soaked.
I would use that dirt to texture landscape and create high, dry spots. Maybe some terraces for rice/fish/aquatic stuff.
It depends on a lot of different stuff
Dig out ponds and use the dirt from that to create more high ground.
Just a couple of ideas.
And with that much water, sounds like you have many advantages.

 
Jason Long
Posts: 153
Location: Davie, Fl
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Hey Tom,
I agree, there are many advantages with this much water. We are planning on lots of systems with subtropical, aquatic loving plants throughout. It is quite exciting. I can upload some photos to give more ideas.

Yes, keeping the roots dry is very important which is why I am here asking questions. We've already raised the area quite a significant amount to protect trees like mango, lychee, jackfruit and the others that do not like having wet feet. This is why I am trying real hard to make sure we are making the right moves with whatever it is that we are doing. We have massive amounts of opportunities for microclimates in the entire site, which is very exciting.

I am still wondering how to collect the water safely in a flat land that will protect the water sensitive trees, provide habitats for aquatic loving plants, keep mosquitos to a minimum, reduce/ eliminate piped irrigation systems, and keep our roads and structures from flooding (and everywhere else that we don't want flooding).


Did I mention we get 7,360,200 gallons of water ever year?

Thanks everyone!
Jason
 
Tom Davis
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I had wanted to share one more thing.
Did you see Goeff Lawton's video of the design for 5 acres?
There was a part of that design which I wanted to describe, and now it's out on video.
He shows foot paths, on the bottom left corner, which are filled with gravel.
They irrigate the "islands" in between the paths and no standing water or pipes for irrigation.
I think he dug down 3,4,5 feet and then backfilled with gravel, now a nice path that irrigates too.
Not sure if that helps, at least maybe for some aspects best of luck.
Ponds with fish to mitigate skeeters.
Try some things, make glorious failures, and successes.
Let us know how it goes, eh?
Pics all along the way would be awesome!
 
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