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Anna Hopping
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Mountainair, New Mexico, United States
Climate Zone:
Cold Arid

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Catching run off

Posted by Anna Hopping almost 10 years ago

How to catch the water running at the bottom of my place and use it.

I live in a small town on 3 lots (1/2 acre?). The street that runs along the south is what I call the old river bed. All the land slops down to it and 3 blocks down there is a channel dug to handle the water flow mid block for several blocks and into the storm system. From my street it follows the road for a block and then has to find its way through the other 2 blocks. I have been eyeing this water flow and wanting to somehow catch it and use it. My place is on the corner with a street along the West and the ally along the East and the river street along the south. Both the West and East roads are slopped towards the south. And they are lower than my yard when they intersect with the street along the south.


A friend said catch the water at the top. That made sense but in my experience we had ponds that caught the water from the drainage above it. But he suggested channeling the water from the road via the ditch into my yard at the top point, the North end of the yard. Wow I had not seen that (he had been introduce to permacuture). I really did not understand what that was at this point other than permanent food and catching water at the high points in ponds.


My yard was higher than the ditch. I build a berm channeling the water to a hole I dug under my fence. I dug a channel along the North fence. I wanted to plant some trees there along the fence for wind break and privacy. I extended the channel making a basin with a slight slop to carry the water into the yard along the fence. I also made a basin along the West fence from the same place creating a 90 degree angle in the corner.


 Along the East alley the water ran into the back drive and I had raised it a little with the fill dirt we were digging out of the old cistern that had been filled in. Before the drive was a muddy place when it rained and un usable as a drive. Now I wanted the water to come into the yard. Well what do I do now to channel the water in at this point?


 I put a berm in the alley channeling the water to the bottom corner of the drive gate and along the E fence line for a future basin of understory trees there under the electric line. I also made 2 more berms between there and the S street trying to channel the water that fell on the road in as high as possible.


I started with a ditch along where the basins would go. So I could see how it worked. Start slow and observe was what I was told to do.


Lots of water came in my West drive and flowed between the house and garage and out the back drive. So I saw this as a ready made inlet flow and created a basin to catch that flow with the over flow into the West yard which was a low place already. I put the dirt I dug out of the hedge basin and made a berm a few feet the other side right where the yard sloped down. I had planed a hedge row for another wind break at this location. Later I increased its size creating a larger basin/ pond. Intend to increase size later.


Then in the West yard I had planted some trees to shade the house and I dug small basin around them.



Then we had a big rain and I realized this was the kind of rain I wanted to be prepared to catch. So I created bigger berms around my apple tree in the west with large area to hold water. That was the last big rain for some while.


When I watered I saw the water did flow. I was only getting a small part of the picture of what was possible. I was only seeing the mediate results to a rain or watering. I did not understand the water storage capacity in the ground till I read the rain harvest book. I was trying to get the water to all the trees with each rain. I created basin around the trees with a way to flow the water from one to the other in an over flow.


I intended to work in this during the winter when it is cooler. We had been having lots of sunny days where the ground was unfrozen. But this next 2 winters the ground stayed frozen all winter.


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