Aqua Systems Update

Today we are getting a real downpour of rain on the farm. When this much water flows over the landscape, especially after the soil is saturated, flooding happens. The farm is testing its new earthworks, and the results are encouraging. It is still unseasonably warm, and more drought on the way in 2016. Right now, the waters are flowing, and it’s time for a water systems update.

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Above is the driveway, looking south down the property. In the past, before our earthworks projects, water would pool here and often cascade down the right side of the road. We’ve dug some drain ditches and put in large pipes under the road to redirect flow and keep the water heading towards our pond. This summer, pipe was put in under the top of the drive, and more trenching has produced another water flow line to the pond, and a dry driveway for long term use.

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On the far side of the wheelbarrow above, a lot of water comes sheeting down from the neighbor to the north. He maintains a vast lawn which acts like a water slide once it’s saturated. The water used to sheet across my driveway and on down the hill. Now it has been diverted into the catchment basin below.

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This catchment basin was newly dug in late summer, 2015. Its outflow joins the spillway below, which arrives at another catchment, before crossing the road again to head towards the pond. It’s enjoyable to see the water moving around the land in a more controlled way.

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Before this diversion of flow, all the water would come down onto the drive, flooding the turn around by our shop. It made for a wet and sticky place, with soft spots a heavy truck did not want to find. This picture also shows where some bare spots on the land are still present from earthworks last year. The berms were all seeded and mulched, but the chickens have been scratching and milling too, and will have to be moved into a fenced pasture system again this spring. Luckily, there was enough growth from our first cover seeding to prevent serious erosion. As you can see in the picture above, the water flow is clear.

DSC01020.JPGEven with all the new drainage, there are still problem spots to be worked on. Pools are forming in some areas. Here I hope to send this water into the beds in our rock garden to the left. Other areas will be enhanced as wetland habitat for our more vulnerable species.

The catchment basins will also work as nursery habitat, and help act as settling spaces for any sediment. Native plant species can also live in and around the edges of these water ways. Though in the summer, wet flow zones will dry up till next winter. The pond does not dry up, as demonstrated last summer, when a drought held back water on the land for three months, on top of an extremely dry winter. Still, the pond held.

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The final leg of the water’s journey from top of the drive, to the pond below ends with a drop. The water splashes down the bank of what will one day be the edge of the pond. We’re planning a temporary extension pipe to get that flow directly falling into the pond for added aeration.

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The water will hold here and slowly seep into the ground. In the picture below, the pond is still about five feet below the outflow pipe. It will take a lot more rain, and slow sealing of the pond floor, before full catchment can be reached. Time will do both.

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