You get big rains, you may get long-lasting problems

You get big rains, you may get long-lasting problems

If the current trend continues, heavier rainfall events might be the new normal for our area. Weather data seems to prove that out, and whether you “believe” in climate change or not, the frequency of intense rainfall events has been on the upswing for years.

Given this reality, you might do well to take a look around your property immediately after the next big rain event. If you think you’re seeing water flowing in places where it’s never flowed before — along building foundations, straight through your flowerbeds, under the edge of the concrete driveway you spent thousands of dollars on just a few years ago — you’re not crazy. You’re simply observant.

The thing about extremely heavy rainfall events is they have the power to alter the landscape in more ways than “merely” chewing away 10 feet of your yard along the normally dry streambed that skirts the edge of your property. Heavy rains and sodden streambanks also drop trees into the flow, which can instantaneously alter the force of the passing water.

A diagonal tree trunk in the path of a flood-swollen stream can redirect the greatest energy of that flow, resulting in a dramatic amplification of bank erosion. While some of that material may make it all the way to the Mississippi, a great deal of it will end up deposited in the form of sand, gravel and debris bars in the near downstream.

If storm events are heavy enough to cause a stream to jump the bank, you might end up with a deposit on your property capable of redirecting much less intense “normal events” into areas like those described in the second paragraph. And it doesn’t take much material to move water in one direction or another. It will always seek the easiest path.

With that in mind, if you’re experiencing “new” problems with stormwater, be sure to get out and about while the run-off is still happening. (Once any lightning has long passed of course.)

If you’ve got water in new places, trace the flow back to where it begins to gather and try to identify any obstruction, high spots, new soil, or gravel deposits or gullies that may be altering the flow. Catching these types of changes early can save you plenty in the long run. The erosive effects of water along slabs, foundations and even across a winter-killed garden plot can be expensive and difficult to repair. Saturation of foundation block can even prove catastrophic if not dealt with in a timely fashion.

If you’ve recognized a problem but are having trouble identifying what has changed (beyond the intensity of the storms) or if you’re left scratching your head over what to do next, give us a call at Holmes Soil & Water at 330-674-2811. We’ve got a number of diagnostic tools at our disposal, the simplest of which is often a nontoxic dye that can be used to trace the flow of water overland. We also can make recommendations that can help put the water back where it needs to be — or at least do our best to keep it away from where it shouldn’t be!

Check out the Holmes Soil & Water Conservation District website at and be sure to “Like” our Facebook page at “Holmes Soil & Water Conservation District,” where you’ll find interesting stories on conservation, farming and wildlife. And there’s still time to order trees (available for pickup in April) from our annual Tree Sale.

Loading next article...

End of content

No more pages to load