Thursday, August 03, 2006

When It Rains, It Pours...Through A Pipe To The Pond



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The summer rains seem to have finally begun. Lately, we've had daily thunderstorms either here at home or in the surrounding area and each and every drop is welcome. There's still a great deficit, but now there's hope.

Years ago, I installed gutters on our house and connected them to a drainpipe that ran all the way down to the pond. Our house is not huge, but it sports alot of steeply pitched roof to collect rain and I figured we could just send that water directly to the pond, instead of waiting for it to seep through the ground.


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(Notice the black, mucky band of mud around the water's edge. As the pond has dropped, this organic layer is exposed, dried, and oxidized until the white sand is left. See the white sandy - green band just above it? Later, when tropical rains (optimist) fill the pond, it will be super-rejuvenated and productive due to this drying out. The normal, average level is up where the young cypress trees are, but a single slow Tropical Storm can fill it far above that in a matter of hours. With the bigger fish "Otterized", I am no longer stressing over low water and actually hoping for more drying before the big rains come.)

The drain pipe, of corrugated black plastic, snakes underground for about a hundred feet before it emerges from the west bank of the pond. At this time, with rains just beginning after a long spring drought, the pipe exit point is exposed. Normally it is under water.


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When the water is up, it's hard to tell if the drain system is working as it is out of sight. It's been in place for about 15 years and I wonder sometimes if it's filled with oak leaves and roots and therefore ineffective. Happily, I have recent proof that it is still working. I took a walk around the pond after a good rain a few days ago and was relieved to see the evidence of flow shown in the photo above.

So the system still works, but back at the house there's work to do to improve it.

The dogs, in their search for a cool spot, have exposed and broken that portion of the black pipe which should take water from the roof on the backside of the house. I have some ideas to improve it since there's some neat drainage products that were not on the market during the original installation.

It's not a priority however, even with hurricane season preparing to kick in. The torrential rains that fall during those storms overwhelm gutters almost instantly, overflowing and pouring off the roof in sheets. So this is the kind of digging project that can wait until the cooler months.

December sounds good.


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18 comments:

Thunder Dave said...

Ok, your engineering skills are beginning to scare me! If you ever get tired of teaching school in Florida, I can probably find you a job up here in fluids handling. ;-)

Laura said...

That's a great idea! Can you run that pipe down to Tampa Bay? we are in a drought!

This story reminds me somewhat of my Dad's method for watering all the trees on one side of their property.
He hooked a pipe up to the washing machine to channel the runoff water toward the trees. My mom had to switch gears when she used bleach, but when it was just soap and water, it was free to run to that part of the yard. As a result, we had the biggest grapefruit and loquat trees in the neighborhood!

pablo said...

That's a tell-tale picture of your pond. I'd been waiting to see a good picture of it for a while and had to rely on your word pictures. But everything you said was true.

I have a similar piping arrangement at my house to drain water away from the foundation. And even though the exit pipe is in plain view, I often wonder if the downspouts are clogged with leaves and such.

roger said...

nicely done. what new drain products? our downspouts all drain into our plastic standup pond, ok, a tank. now if we would just have a bit of real rain....

Mrs. S said...

I like the term "otterized"... I think I will adopt it as an "alternative swear" in my never-ending quest to clean up my language. No one will know what I am talking about, so it will just be that much better!!

FC, my dear - once again, you've made my day ;)

Hurricane Teen said...

Yes the afternoon seabreeze thunderstorms have finally arrived! Maybe I can kayak Durbin Creek again soon! Is that little lovable mammal still there "otterizing" your fish, or has he gone on to terrorize somebody else's pond?

threecollie said...

That was a real close call on the drying up of the pond. I had no idea until I saw the picture. Glad you are getting some rain. Wish I could get the boss to drain our roof run off away like that, but I suppose it would be quite a project.

benning said...

I dunno, Laura, it's been pretty rainy across the Bay in Pinellas.

FC: I always enjoy the images. The first was very nice, indeed! You got a good eye!

madcapmum said...

My husband and I were just talking about putting something like that into our next place - what a coincidence that you would post about it now. Did you dig the trench by hand?

Floridacracker said...

ThunderD,
Wait'll you see my Flounder light...

Laura,
Wise use of "grey water"...your dad was ahead of the curve. As for running a pipe to Tampa...We in the rural north have to be constantly fighting that very thing...as you know from your stint in Hawthorne (?). Every so often the powerful south FL legislative delegation advances the idea of sucking our water south for even more overdevelopment. It brings out the "over my dead body" redneck in me.

Pablo,
I thought you could relate to pond misery...even though yours is on a much grander scale...your pond, not your misery. I need to get in there and pull more weeds while the water is knee deep.
As for the drainpipes, it is amazing how densely a sneaky root can fill a pipe. I was relieved to see flow in this old setup.

roger,
new products...just some nice heavy duty plastic grates designed to hook link together and hook into the black corrugated drainpipe. i could lose the gutters and let the rain flow into these grates.

Mrs. S,
Why thank you! Nothing like the proximity of small children to make you realize your language might be a wee bit "salty". I wasn't too bad before, but the first baby imitating everything I did cured me of swearing.

Hurricane Teen,
I haven't seen the otter for awhile. I think that is pretty cool that 20+ years apart, we discovered the same spiked Cypress tree on Durbin Creek.

ThreeCollie,
My wife and I used a mattock and a shovel and trenched the whole way down to the pond about 2 feet deep and 100 feet long. I love to dig.

Benning,
Thanks. Of course you know Pinellas county is solid concrete, so the rain never touches the "ground".

Mum,
I see amazing coincidences in this blogging neighborhood...kind'a neat.
We did dig it by hand, but Rome was not dug in a day!

Deb said...

I wrote a comment on here, right after my good friend Madcapmum, that just went poof into cyberspace. Basically I was saying that we've recently felt the rains after the biggest drought here in years, and it's been good. And that on the new house we want to install a rainwater collection system--not that we're hurting for water here, but the drought really got me thinking about water conservation.

Wayne said...

Lucky y'all! At least I can live vicariously, though desiccated, through the fortunates of others.

I thought connected the gutters through a pipe system draining into a pond was one of the most satisfying things I've done. It was a delight to see the outlet gush during even small rainfalls.

I sort of pity homeowners who either let the rain stream off their roofs carving little moats beneath their homes, or direct the runoff into the nearest storm drain. Even a small collecting pond is a great resource (although probably an "attractive nuisance" in some places).

I haven't progressed to the point of properly distributing water out of the main pond that gets the gutter flow, but I've collected innumerable 5 gallon buckets-full and used the water to keep planting areas moist during drought.

Floridacracker said...

Wayne,
I agree, it's very satisfying to see water flow where you want it.
I'd have a cistern too if I could squeeze in one more thing to do around here!

Laura said...

Back for one last comment.
I must agree with you on that redneck side that emerges whenever the legislative lobbyists get busy with their decision to divert water resources down to South Fla. A better idea would be to stop fueling the fires that encourage the people to move TO florida and give them tax incentives to move to South Dakota instead.

To Benning, very true about the rain lately, but it hasn't been consistent enough. In our area, there are ponds that are as dry as the photo in FC's picture. I often read about the rain over in Tampa, Clearwater and south St. Pete, but it seems to make a wide circle around us. My neighborhood has the dead grass to prove it! :)
Hurricane season should probably change all that.

Floridacracker said...

"...A better idea would be to stop fueling the fires that encourage the people to move TO florida and give them tax incentives to move to South Dakota instead."

When Laura runs for governor, she has my vote.
Can we clone her?

Floridacracker said...

OOps!,
Deb, somehow I missed that comment until now (Saturday)...clumsy of me. There's some pretty high tech cistern systems being installed in new houses that are in more arid regions.

Hurricane Teen said...

I would vote for Laura. Let's start campaigning. I have the same "over my dead body" redneck thing come out in me whenever people come here and tell us how to run our state. Those little blue-haired ladies never stop. Case in point: Have you seen the new parking garage in St. Aug? It's hideous, but people just kept complaining until it was built. Parking in St. Aug is easy if you know where to find it! ;-)

Floridacracker said...

Hurricane Teen,
I saw it last weekend when I was home for my reunion. It's slightly out of place in historic Auggie.