Looking for Swale and Dam Design resource

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by Tasman, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. Tasman

    Tasman Junior Member

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    Hi All,

    We are about to start planning a small dam on our property. It will be our first dam. Could somebody recommend me a practical reference (book?) on dam/swale/water movement? We're interested in dam placement, dam design, practical water movement (pipes, valves, etc), swale design and planting in relation to these structures.

    Here are the design parameters and constraints:
    • Property has a dam at the lowest point. We want to capture and store water higher on the land.
    • The catchment above the new dam location is not very large. But I think drains could be used to capture enough water to keep the dam filled. We also plan to make it possible to pump from the bottom dam.
    • We'd like to design a dam with multiple uses. The primary idea is to capture and distribute water, but if we can put fish or yabbies or aquatic vegetables in it with clever design then that would be great.
    • The water in the dam should be available to elements down the hill (orchard, vege patch, stock water points, windbreak, forrest). I was thinking run a pipe down the hill and put taps in various places along the way. Not sure if a simple syphon system out of the dam will keep the pipe full or not. Looking for info pipe placement and priming the pipe for downhill flow by syphon. I don't want buried pipes to be a source of leakage for dam/swale.
    • There are stock in the area now, I'm thinking we'll fence the area off and introduce animals to the area according to a plan we make.
    • We'd like to plant out the swale/drain and dam in order to maximize its effectiveness.
    • We're poor, but have lots of time and energy to devote to the project.

    By the way, this seems like a fantastic start: https://permaculturenews.org/2010/12/15/a-guide-to-back-flood-swales/

    cheers,
    tas
     
  2. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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  3. Terra

    Terra Moderator

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    Yeomans book is very good don't be put off by how old it is , im rereading it at the moment and of course picked up on some facts I had missed . The middle section of the book relates to dams , filler drains , Then there is keyline ripping , flood irrigating ect in the rest of the book , more info on the Yeomans website on ripping.

    I have a simple siphon out of the dam up the back and it works great , I only used 25mm pipe should have gone much bigger but its 3 kms so cost a bit , I have similar flow and pressure to a home pressure pump so im happy with that , bury your pipe or in the hot periods you will have hot water , I followed a fence line and left the joins uncovered and marked the fence as well so I know where joins are . I planned to fill the join holes with soft sand but haven't got back to do it .

    If you can get some test holes drilled to check your dam site for suitable clay , might save you a lot of $$$ . I did this the first few sites we did test holes on were white clay with high salt content .
     
  4. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    take a look through these

    there are quite a few different works in the following list that will help you out.

    https://jubilee101.com/
     
  5. Tasman

    Tasman Junior Member

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    Thanks everybody! I've ordered the Water for Every Farm book. Songbird, thats a mountain of nice looking links!
     
  6. debonatrek

    debonatrek Junior Member

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    while everyone is talking about swales. my partner and i have VERY different ideas on our property..at the moment we have a large orchard, and i can pretty much take over the design of it (but nothing else). The orchard is very well established and i would like to put a swale on the up hill side of the hill. We are in a low rainfall area and it gets rather windy

    Is one swale even worth the effort? would there be noticable difference to show him that they work? I have water for every farm he belives that our gravelly soil it would be a waste of time
    thanks
     
  7. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Deb can you access a local permie designer? The answer is it depends and it is very site specific. Soil, rainfall, aspect, tree species, etc etc will all have an impact on the decision. And there will be downhill consequences that you need to plan for. Swales should always be considered within the bigger question of how you manage all the water on your site. How are you watering them at the moment?
     
  8. debonatrek

    debonatrek Junior Member

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    Thanks eco4560. at the moment we have a bore and the trees are on drippers. intially the orchard was on large sprinklers but i have slowly changed them to drippers. IT hasnt rained in 5 months so not a lot of rainfall over summer. We do get more in winter and there is a lot of dew too
     

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