Ted’s essays

dam story

We live on a year-round creek, but upstream of us are people who may lawfully divert as much of the water as they wish… OR let any fraction of the natural flow roll through our yard. It is one thing to accommodate what nature sends our way. It is another thing entirely to be at the downstream end of humans with unknown (likely tenuous) attachments to nature.

Last year I had extended access to a backhoe. Among the projects I knocked out was to build a backwater so Beagle Brain (our beagle/lab cross) could no longer sneak out of the vulnerable spot where the containment fence crosses the creek. I even built a fish ladder in case jumping into the culvert flow was too challenging.

The Problem is that my upstream neighbors can allow a trickle through … or a flood. No warning. No control. No consistency.

It was on the verge of cresting my dam this week … and immediately wiping it out. I was almost game for letting it go, but a friend offered to help shore it up (for a fee).

So we did.

I bought two ten-foot sections of twelve-inch culvert and truckloads of rock. With hired help we placed them to handle significant flow increases without washing the dam downstream. Today two 12-inch culverts supplement the 14-inch culvert that was supposed to handle whatever came its way.

It is readily apparent that the old system was about 50 gallons per minute short of balancing income and outgo. I will not say “I have any contingency covered”, but my margin for excess flow is greatly enhanced now.

My little waterfall certainly adds plenty of aeration, or oxygen to the little fishy water running through our front yard.