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Spring formation and swales

 
gardener
Posts: 787
Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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this is a question to those who have installed swales and seen springs forming downgrade.

What is your approximate slope?

How big are your swales?

What was the time frame before springs formed?

Where did they form exactly? Like how far from the swales, how far down in elevation?



 
Zach Muller
gardener
Posts: 787
Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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So it makes sense that springs would form based on the theory of swales, and the computer animations of ground water I have seen. Since no one is jumping in with a response I am wondering if maybe spring formation has been overstated by some proponents of swales. I have watched geoff lawtons videos about his students property where there are amazing ponds and seemingly endless water being pumped by wind power and I love it, it seems like that person has reached a hydrological end goal. But it does not show any springs forming.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2283
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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I think true springs depend on both the scale of the swale/infiltration system and the specifics of the soil and subsoil.

In our deep, deep chalk subsoil the ground water is 40m deep. Any water that gets infiltrated sinks into the permeable chalk, and I wouldn't expect to see a spring form. That said, swales could still be of benefit as the water plume in the soil is accessible for plant roots.
 
Posts: 1976
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Our water table is deep. I wouldn't expect to see an above ground spring anywhere near me, ever.
 
steward
Posts: 4674
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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There was a ravine about 8 feet deep. It was through clay. I laid a piece of 1/2" PVC drain pipe in the bottom of it. Then I built a clay dike over the lower part of the pipe. Then I filled the area above the dike with sand. Water would seep out of the pipe for about a month after a rain storm.

I built a wire check-dam across a ravine. It caught brush, slowed the water, and filled with gravel to a depth of 8 feet during the first rain storm. A layer of gravel about 3 feet deep collected on top of the bedrock for about 25 feet downstream from the check-dam. Water puddles below that where the bedrock is exposed again.

I built a berm about a foot high where some boulders stick out of a gully. Water collects on the bedrock below the boulders.

I'd say based on my experience that the potential for seep formation has been seriously under-valued... Perhaps my world view is colored by living in the deep desert. A seep out here is akin to a miracle. I'd think I was in an oasis if I had at home the amount of water that is left over in my irrigation pipe when I water a field.


 
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