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How to deal with too much water? And this is not a swamp but a slope...  RSS feed

 
Posts: 67
Location: Merville, BC
7
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Howdy,

I live in the PNW of Canada. We get steady winter downpours to drizzles followed by summer droughts (seasonal droughts, not Cali style endless droughts). Our property is on a slight slope with the house near the top and a pond near the bottom. The whole homestead/rural life is fairly new to me, so I'm lacking depths of experience, and working on building skills and learning where ever I can. I'm having troubles finding information on how to deal with excess water.

The permie water solutions seem to focus more on drylands (no water!) or sporadic downpours with surface runoff (swales!), or some combination of the two. The little I've seen regarding wetlands focuses on chinampas. I'm living in a whole other world, neither dryland nor swamp...

We have areas of our property that get very waterlogged over the winter. As we've lived here the last 3 winters, it seems to be getting worse, and this past winter of El Nino downpours didn't help. As I mentioned, we have a slight slope, dropping 5 feet over 300 feet... very slight, but it is a slope. This past winter, though, areas of standing water, puddles, soggy ground have increased. I'm not needing to dry it all out (impossible!) but I would like to divert and redirect so as to keep zones 0 and 1 a bit drier. I do plan to add a pond or two higher up the slope out in zone 3/4.

I'm looking for ideas and techniques and more specifically solid resources for the diy rural ditch digger.

Thanks!

 
Posts: 361
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Kirk, I wonder if a French drain angled across your property might help? I have no experience on the black plastic tile that farmers use. I imagine it will all depend a bit on how fast the ground thaws. Maybe you can post some pictures for the smart guys in the room?
 
Mike Feddersen
Posts: 361
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I just did a YouTube search and was reminded of perforated pipe, an easy do it yourself job. I am including the YouTube video that reminded me and one for homedepot.com with types of file. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4f6_O7NuOGM

http://m.homedepot.com/b/Search/N-5yc1vZbv13/Ntk-Extended/Ntt-drain+pipe?Ntx=mode+matchpartialmax&NCNI-5

Another video tutorial below http://uds.ak.o.brightcove.com/66036796001/66036796001_3594185163001_hdiv359304757800114013648940730665.mp4
 
pollinator
Posts: 598
Location: Victoria BC
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Howdy, almost-neighbour...

Kirk Hockin wrote:
We have areas of our property that get very waterlogged over the winter. As we've lived here the last 3 winters, it seems to be getting worse, and this past winter of El Nino downpours didn't help. As I mentioned, we have a slight slope, dropping 5 feet over 300 feet... very slight, but it is a slope. This past winter, though, areas of standing water, puddles, soggy ground have increased. I'm not needing to dry it all out (impossible!) but I would like to divert and redirect so as to keep zones 0 and 1 a bit drier. I do plan to add a pond or two higher up the slope out in zone 3/4.



Definitely getting worse here too...

As far as dealing with it, well... Water where you don't want it, needs to be encouraged to flow away to where you do want it, or at least to where you don't mind it...

Swales can be used with the expectation that they will fill in heavy rain; designing them to hold only a reasonably infiltratable amount and having really good spillways to take the excess elsewhere is wise... Swales may also help by slowing the water and getting it to soak in upslope from the current puddle-places. But with the amount of slope you have, hard to say. I'm used to way too much slope...

Drain tile/field tile/weeping tile/french drains are all pretty much the same thing; a ditch filled in with something that water can flow through, ie gravel, generally with a perforated pipe of some sort near the bottom of that to better flow the water. Preferably you'd slow the inflow of muck that will clog your drainage by using landscape fabric or similar over the gravel. Not real permaculturey, but you could do it the old fashioned way with old gravel if you don't mind redoing it sooner...

Depending on your soil it can be pretty heavy work, especially on a larger scale. A trenching shovel was absolutely essential to doing this by hand in heavy clay; a heavy mattock is very useful too... Mechanized assistance or a shitload of woofers may be in order. Maybe mix this technique with some hugel building and swale creation and host a workparty...

As a much lower effort option(but less lasting and generally less beneficial due to the erosion possibilities), I've put in a few shallow open ditches to get the water out of my way for the moment...

Ponds can help, if in the right spot; in the wrong spot they could make matters worse...


Aside from direct intervention of this sort, you might be able to improve infiltration by improving soil health and relieving compaction; certainly most of the puddling areas that we've got are places that get walked/driven upon. The few that aren't are either above old fill, or in natural pockets of clay... but in general we have quite a lot more slope than you. Putting down woodchips is the best thing I've found for paths...

What is the soil like on your land?


[quote=
Mike Feddersen]I imagine it will all depend a bit on how fast the ground thaws.I would expect that the ground will rarely be frozen for any extended period in Merville; any given winter is likely to have some snow and weeks of freeze, but a lot more rain than snow right through the winter. This is a mixed blessing.. no massive spring thaw flooding to manage, but lots and lots of water all winter!
 
Posts: 1800
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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During the winter, the wet soil doesn't negatively affect the plants so why change it. In fact if you 'dry' out the soil in January you are going to start your bone-dry drought in late March vs June. At which point you are going to have to start watering. I would prefer to have super productive wet soil vs less productive wet soil.

Now if you are saying that you don't want a food productive space but you want a place to work on your vehicle or to kick ball. Then by all means divert the water before it can soak (ditch around the zone, and if it is possible a roof), raise the elevation, create a hardtop (cement, asphalt), tons of gravel and paths made of plank will also create a faux-hardtop.
 
pollinator
Posts: 10119
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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A diversion swale, which is just a regular swale off-contour, can direct water away from specific areas, without additional materials as required by french and other drains.

More information in Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 2 by Brad Lancaster
 
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