Check dams

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Check damsStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales. are small dams or weirs constructed across a drainage ditchA long narrow trench or furrow dug in the ground, as for irrigation, drainage, or a boundary line., swaleA shallow constructed channel, often grass-lined, which is used as an alternative to curb and channel, or as a pretreatment to other measures. Swales are generally characterized by a broad top width to depth ratio and gentle grades., or channel to lower the speed of concentrated flows for a certain design range of storm events and to promote infiltrationThe slow movement of water into or through a soil or drainage system.Penetration of water through the ground surface..

Check damsStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales.:

  • may be constructed of any resilient and waterproof material, including: rock gabions, earth berms, coarse aggregateA broad category of particulate material used in construction, including sand, gravel, crushed stone, slag, recycled concrete and geosynthetic aggregates, and available in various particulate size gradations. or rip-rap, concrete, metal or pre-treated timber. Stone used in check damsStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales. should have minimum median diameter 25 - 75 mm.
  • for enhanced swales may be up to 0.6 m in height; the maximum design depth of ponded water should be ≤ 0.6 m.
  • designed for higher flow velocities should have spillways incorporated into their profile, to direct water to the centre of the swaleA shallow constructed channel, often grass-lined, which is used as an alternative to curb and channel, or as a pretreatment to other measures. Swales are generally characterized by a broad top width to depth ratio and gentle grades..
  • are usually installed between 10 - 20 m along the swaleA shallow constructed channel, often grass-lined, which is used as an alternative to curb and channel, or as a pretreatment to other measures. Swales are generally characterized by a broad top width to depth ratio and gentle grades.. The spacing of dams should not exceed the horizontal distance from the toe of the upstream dam to the same elevation on the downstream dam.
  • should have energy dissipation and erosion controlIncludes the protection of soil from dislocation by water, wind or other agents. measures installed in the 1 - 2 m downstream. Examples include large aggregateA broad category of particulate material used in construction, including sand, gravel, crushed stone, slag, recycled concrete and geosynthetic aggregates, and available in various particulate size gradations. or turf reinforcement

Sizing and spacing of check damsStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales.

Check dams.png

Check damsStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales. are a feature of enhanced grass swales. They promote infiltration and evaporationAbiotic transfer of water vapour to the atmosphere. by promoting limited ponding. To design check dams into a swaleA shallow constructed channel, often grass-lined, which is used as an alternative to curb and channel, or as a pretreatment to other measures. Swales are generally characterized by a broad top width to depth ratio and gentle grades.:

  1. The height of each dam is determined by the depth of ponded water that will infiltrate in a specified period (often 48 - 72 hours). The infiltration may be through the turf grass or other plants directly into the native soilThe natural ground material characteristic of or existing by virtue of geographic origin. or some soil amendments may be proposed in the design.
  2. The gradient between the top of the lower check damStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales. and the bottom of the upper one is called "compensation gradient" which is the future or final effective gradient of the swaleA shallow constructed channel, often grass-lined, which is used as an alternative to curb and channel, or as a pretreatment to other measures. Swales are generally characterized by a broad top width to depth ratio and gentle grades.. It is formed when material carried by flowing water fills the check damsStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales. to spillway level.
  3. Dams are usually installed between 10-20 m along the swaleA shallow constructed channel, often grass-lined, which is used as an alternative to curb and channel, or as a pretreatment to other measures. Swales are generally characterized by a broad top width to depth ratio and gentle grades.. The spaces between check damsStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales. can be determined according to the compensation gradient and the effective height of the dams. They are distributed such that the crest of each dam is at approximately the same elevation as the toe of the upstream dam. If the slope along the swaleA shallow constructed channel, often grass-lined, which is used as an alternative to curb and channel, or as a pretreatment to other measures. Swales are generally characterized by a broad top width to depth ratio and gentle grades. varies, so should the distance between the dams.
  4. The compensation gradient of enhanced swalesA shallow constructed channel, often grass-lined, which is used as an alternative to curb and channel, or as a pretreatment to other measures. Swales are generally characterized by a broad top width to depth ratio and gentle grades. must be < 1 % (0.5 % preferred).

The objective of these design recommendations are to maximize the distribution of ponded water along the whole BMPBest management practice. State of the art methods or techniques used to manage the quantity and improve the quality of wet weather flow. BMPs include: source, conveyance and end-of-pipe controls.. Detailed design may require iteration of the dam heights and distances along each section of a long swaleA shallow constructed channel, often grass-lined, which is used as an alternative to curb and channel, or as a pretreatment to other measures. Swales are generally characterized by a broad top width to depth ratio and gentle grades..


To estimate the depth of water that can be infiltrated into a surface within a given time\[y=f'\times t\]

Where:

  • y = the depth of ponded water in mm,
  • f' = the design infiltration rate in mm/hr (after correction, where required).
  • t = time in hrs

After surveying the longitudinal profile of the swaleA shallow constructed channel, often grass-lined, which is used as an alternative to curb and channel, or as a pretreatment to other measures. Swales are generally characterized by a broad top width to depth ratio and gentle grades., the number of check damsStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales. for the swaleA shallow constructed channel, often grass-lined, which is used as an alternative to curb and channel, or as a pretreatment to other measures. Swales are generally characterized by a broad top width to depth ratio and gentle grades. can be calculated by using the following equation\[Number\ of\ dams= \frac{L\left ( S_{i}-S_{e} \right )}{h}\]

Where:

  • L: Length of swaleA shallow constructed channel, often grass-lined, which is used as an alternative to curb and channel, or as a pretreatment to other measures. Swales are generally characterized by a broad top width to depth ratio and gentle grades. (m)
  • Si: Initial existing slope ratio of the swaleA shallow constructed channel, often grass-lined, which is used as an alternative to curb and channel, or as a pretreatment to other measures. Swales are generally characterized by a broad top width to depth ratio and gentle grades. (rise/run)
  • Se: Desired effective slope of the enhanced swaleVegetated open channel, with check dams; designed to convey, treat and attenuate stormwater runoff. (between 0.005 - 0.01, rise/run)
  • h: The average effective height of the check damsStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales. in m (excluding foundations)(suggest you use y, calculated above)

  • The first check damStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales. should be constructed on a stable point in the gully such as a rock outcrop, the junction point of the gully to a road, the main stream or river, lake or reservoir.
  • If there is no such stable point, a counter-dam must be constructed. The distance between the first dam and the counter-dam must be at least two times the effective height of the first check damStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales..
  • The points where the ensuing check damsStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales. are to be built are determined according to the compensation gradient and the effective height of the check damsStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales..
  • The effective height of the second check damStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales. is determined by taking into account the depth of the swaleA shallow constructed channel, often grass-lined, which is used as an alternative to curb and channel, or as a pretreatment to other measures. Swales are generally characterized by a broad top width to depth ratio and gentle grades., the depth of the spillway and the maximum height of the check damStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales..
  • In this way, all the other proposed check damStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales. points can be calculated.

When spacing check damsStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales., give preference to the narrowest parts of the swaleA shallow constructed channel, often grass-lined, which is used as an alternative to curb and channel, or as a pretreatment to other measures. Swales are generally characterized by a broad top width to depth ratio and gentle grades. in order to reduce construction costs. In this case, to establish the compensation gradient between the proposed check damsStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales., proportionately increase the foundation depth of the upper check damStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales. when the space between the lower and upper check damStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales. is extended. When the space is shortened, decrease the foundation depth. As the foundation depth is increased, the total height of the check damStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales. (effective height plus foundation depth) should not exceed the permissible, maximum total height.


Example Calculation

An enhanced swaleVegetated open channel, with check dams; designed to convey, treat and attenuate stormwater runoff. of 42 m has an existing longitudinal slope of 6 %. The underlying soil has been amended to infiltrate at 16 mm/hr (after safety correction applied); the regulatory authority requires that ponded water must not remain for over 48 hours. The maximum height of the check damsStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales. (h) to prevent extended ponding is:\[h=16\ mm/hr\times 48\ hrs = 768\ mm \]

But the maximum recommended depth of check damsStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales. is 0.6 m (600 mm).

(As an aside, these will drain in \(\frac{600\ mm}{16\ mm/hr}=37.5\ hrs\))

The current vertical distance along the swaleA shallow constructed channel, often grass-lined, which is used as an alternative to curb and channel, or as a pretreatment to other measures. Swales are generally characterized by a broad top width to depth ratio and gentle grades. is:\[42\ m\times \left ( \frac{6}{100} \right )=2.52\ m\]

The desired effective slope to slow flow is 0.5%. The vertical distance along the swaleA shallow constructed channel, often grass-lined, which is used as an alternative to curb and channel, or as a pretreatment to other measures. Swales are generally characterized by a broad top width to depth ratio and gentle grades. with compensation gradient is:\[42\ m\times \left ( \frac{0.5}{100} \right )=0.21\ m\]

The number of check damsStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales. required is:\[\frac{\left ( 2.52\ m\times 0.21\ m\right )}{0.6\ m}=3.85\]

This is rounded up to 4 dams, creating 5 ponding zones:\[\frac{42\ m}{5}=8.4\ m\]

So the four check damsStructures constructed of a non-erosive material, such as suitably sized aggregate, wood, gabions, riprap, or concrete; used to slow runoff water. Can be employed in practices such as bioswales and enhanced grass swales. will be 0.6 m high and spaced every 8.4 m along the swaleA shallow constructed channel, often grass-lined, which is used as an alternative to curb and channel, or as a pretreatment to other measures. Swales are generally characterized by a broad top width to depth ratio and gentle grades.. These are fairly close together, but this construction is achievable and the dimensions are not remarkable, given the change in gradient is an order of magnitude.

Gallery

Also see Jen's Pinterest board of check dams

External references

FAO