Surviving the Storm

Surviving the Storm

Hurricane Harvey passed through this month and dumped about 12″ on the ranch over a 5 day period.  It was rather insignificant as the water fell at a steady slow rate, and had plenty of time to move through the terrain and make its way off of the property.  Of course it all moved towards Houston and only compounded the extreme flooding that they had there (glad we moved last year).

The only disruption we had was the failure of a dam I had constructed just the week before.

I was able to borrow the track hoe from Robert Hammack so I put it to use building a small retention pond about half way up the property in the mesquite patch.  There was obviously lots of water flow in the area, as evidence by the erosion, and a very attractive spot to put a small dam.  I took great pains to build the dam correctly, tying it into the surrounding terrain and digging a keyway with compacted clay to ensure it wouldn’t leak.  The ground was very dry and getting proper compaction was hard as the track hoe doesn’t apply much ground force.  I figured I’d come back after a light rain and do a better job of compacting the clay and ensuring it was sealed.  Additionally, it was difficult to see where the water would go in the event of an overflow, so I thought I would just monitor it after a few rainfalls and dig an overflow trench if I had to.

Well, Harvey had other plans.  With all the rainfall, the pond filled up and breached the dam in the first day (confirming it was an excellent place to put a pond).  It cut about a 12″ wide slot right in the middle of the dam and the water just kept coming.  I believe had the dam been better compacted, and/or an overflow trench cut on virgin soil, the dam would have held.

After a few weeks of drying out, I was able to patch the breach.  I am still unable to get good compaction on the dam, so I’m not too hopeful that it will endure.  I did cut an overflow trench to redirect the water, however.  Time will tell.

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