Stop erosion, build a pump track

Berms for a green future

“Water use and conservation is quickly becoming one of the world’s more pressing issues. The majority of North American society remains unaware of some of the simplest practices that can assist in avoiding the predicted water crisis. One age old technique, now considered an essential part of Permaculture design, is that of creating swales and berms. A swale is essentially a small ditch or depression which catches, holds and/or diverts water, “berms” being the name given to the rounded side of a swale which helps direct water into its pooling embrace. Swales are a common practice in rainwater catchement, stormwater and flooding diversion.

Swales are often used on slopes where fast-moving stormwater would otherwise erode the earth and runoff too quickly, usually into overflowing stormwater drainage systems, for the surrounding area to benefit. In order to divert the water and also maximize the amount that can be absorbed into the soil where you want it, you need dig the swale on only a very minimal slope, generally on contour with whatever slope you’re digging it into. This can be a key practice in avoiding flooding, due to the increased rate of infiltration into the soil as well as the slowed pace that a meandering swale can provide. The slowed progress of water also allows for filtration of pollutants before reaching larger water-bodies, particularly if planted with trees or aquatic plants that absorb heavy metals (and are ideally not intended for consumption!).

Swales can and have been integrated into any level of site design, from individual homes to large commercial complexes. In terms of city planning, they are far more efficient and effective in dealing with stormwater than concrete surfaces, which allow for no penetration into the soil whatsoever, or drainage systems which ensure that every pollutant possible is washed away with the water that could be returning to, and being filtered by, the land.” from Ecospace blog

saving the earth.



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