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Creek repair - brush dams  RSS feed

 
master pollinator
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Video of the water, downstream to upstream:

https://plus.google.com/photos/photo/101692247658816105998/6286568219087301474
 
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How are the brush dams holding 8 months on, Ludi?

I've got a similar creek here in southern Australia, & am using various structures - rocks, wire, shadecloth - to make weirs to prevent the considerable gully erosion we have.

The comment above re such structures not lasting long enough - & the need for meandering - got me thinking.
 
Tyler Ludens
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They held up fantastically in the flood and I think helped save most of our driveway.  We'll be adding more to them in the coming cold season.  I think they, along with some strategic earthworks, will solve all our flood problems in the next few years - we have a 5 year goal of completing all this work, though it will probably be a good idea to continue to add more material as long as we've physically capable of doing so.

 
John Macgregor
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Tyler Ludens wrote:They held up fantastically in the flood and I think helped save most of our driveway.  We'll be adding more to them in the coming cold season.  I think they, along with some strategic earthworks, will solve all our flood problems in the next few years - we have a 5 year goal of completing all this work, though it will probably be a good idea to continue to add more material as long as we've physically capable of doing so.



Thanks for that.

What do you think of the idea (voiced up above) that weirs & barriers like this don't last long enough, & that changing the flow of the stream is more lasting?

(NB: I'm presently employing your method.)
 
Tyler Ludens
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I'm looking at the example of Peter Andrews, whose creek was filled with organic material which eventually grew trees, and seems stable.  I'm hoping to grow Switchgrass, which is supposed to be nearly as stable as rock constructions.  I can't know how this will behave over time, I can only guess it will eventually become stable and "permanent."

 
Tyler Ludens
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Working on this season's brush damming.  We're trying to induce a meander here and move the water away from the side of the hill:
before.jpg
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after.jpg
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It's looks so insignificant, but has so much impact. I amazed by how much you accomplish without heavy equipment. Reminds me that I need to get digging to spread out the runoff that goes across our front yard during heavy rain events.
 
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I'm also building brush dams in the small gullies and washes/ravines on our 7 acres.  A few bags of leaves collected from neighbors will be dumped on the upstream side of the larger dams, and I intend to plant a seedlings like oaks, mountain laurel, and goldenball lead tree along the edges of the ravines.  The dams are, in my mind, a great way to keep organic material and some rainwater on our property,
 
Tyler Ludens
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Good deal!  They make a huge amount of difference in a short time.
 
Tyler Ludens
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A heavy downpour gave us the opportunity to see how the new brushdam is working, and it is working great, slowing the water and capturing a large amount of organic material.

P1060614.jpg
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Tyler Ludens
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Started another brush dam in a deeply eroded channel.

P1060644.jpg
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Tyler Ludens
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Here's some more of that brush dam we've been working on lately:

P1060657.jpg
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Tyler Ludens
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The original dam at the boundary got washed out a little on one side:

P1060663.jpg
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Is it taking a couple rains before the dams hold water? My first rain they didn't hold any, but I saw a lot of leaves etc that got deposited next to it. I assume they start clogging the branches.
 
Tyler Ludens
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They're really meant to slow the water rather than hold it, but eventually - after several years - they may trap enough sediment to actually hold water.  Initially they just filter larger debris such as leaves, and allow the water to pass through.

 
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Okay, this might be the dumbest question ever... But what will happen once the dams actually become impermeable?  Is that your long term goal? Will there be a problem with where the water goes if it no longer can follow the creek bed?  I have said many times... I am pretty terrible at building things, so I think I am missing something here.

I am currently trying to come up with solutions for the flash flooding and erosion that happens here during our rainy season... Which will start in a few weeks.  I am a bit afraid of making everything worse. Thanks for any insight and experience you can share!
 
Tyler Ludens
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There will always be channels for the water to follow - it will simply move more slowly.  At least that's the goal!

This video explains the idea:

 
Casie Becker
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Tyler will probably jump in with more information but I can give you somewhere to begin. As the flash flood comes through it strips soil and organic matter down to the bed rock. There is nothing left to catch and hold rain water, think rain in a cement parking lot. The brush dams slow the water enough to make it drop some of those stolen materials. These build up into a healthy layer of soil and organic materials that can absorb a lot of water before it starts running off. Deep soil with high organic content absorbs water before the floods can form. Eventually plants can take root here and continue the process, both creating and capturing organic material. As an added bonus, such techniques also recharge ground water as the captured water seeps deeper. Sometimes it has an added bonus of reawakening dried up old springs.
 
Tyler Ludens
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That's pretty much the whole thing right there, Casie!
 
Maureen Atsali
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Thank you Casie and Tyler, that really explains a lot.
 
Tyler Ludens
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We're trying yet another strategy to slow down the water.  This morning it was too wet to work down in the lower creek channel, so we moved uphill to a place near the neighbors' fence where flood water enters our place as a sheet with force sufficient to flatten the fence.  Our strategy is to try building really big brush piles in the way of the water, to try to deflect it and de-energise it.  If our piles aren't big enough, they'll get pushed downhill by the water, but this shouldn't be bad as they will fetch up on a lower brush dam or form a new dam against trees.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Only another hour or two before we're finished with this 100 foot long brush dam filling the eroded channel:
P1060668.jpg
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Tyler Ludens
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Update on this dam with grass growing in upstream:
P1060670.jpg
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pollinator
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Tyler, I am really loving this thread.  It's awesome seeing how this is all coming together.  Thank you for posting it.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Unfortunately, that which we feared has come to pass - there is a new development upstream of us which is now dumping extra runoff into our already flood-prone creeks.  Some of the water enters our top basin and overflows into other basins, but much of it passes behind the upper basin and enters our land in a rock area where we can't dig a basin. We've talked to the neighbors about them digging a basin but so far no action on their part, so we'll probably have to fix the problem ourselves.  I think we could be able to slow and redirect the runoff by building a mighty brush dam about 150 feet long across the channel on our side of the fence.
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uppercreek2.JPG
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Tyler Ludens
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Here's my design for three large brush dams to deflect the neighbors' runoff away from the creek channel and, eventually, I hope, direct it to a brush swale that will move it across the land to an infiltration basin.  This is a long term plan!

channel.jpg
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