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Stormwater Retention Basins: A Proven Solution to Conserve Water and Combat Farmland Erosion

07/27/2021 1:57 PM | Jody Tyler

Due to frequent and unpredictable rainfall events, a section of farmland in the Seneca Lake Watershed had been experiencing persistent erosion and flooding issues.  Although the farmland had been treated well with good management practices including strip crops, cover cropping, and reduced tillage practices, it still experienced significant flooding and erosion issues.  

After a watershed analysis was completed of the area, a decision was made for the Yates County Soil and Water Conservation District to install two stormwater retention basins (officially referred to as Water and Sediment Control Outlet Basins).  Stormwater basins have been constructed for many years around the watershed and are a proven, useful land management practice.  The basins take the peak flow of water, store it, and slowly release it which reduces downslope flooding and erosion.  

The basins are strategically placed in the landscape to allow for the most water storage capacity.  For this project in Yates County, approximately 2,700 feet of 6-inch plastic drain tile and 600 feet of 4-inch plastic drain tile was used to outlet the water from the basins to a downslope, stable area.  The basins were constructed in the middle of the farmland so extra sloping work was completed to keep the loss of farmland to a minimum.  Over 1,300 cubic yards of soil were moved. After construction, only 0.3 acres of farmland were lost for the basins and the farm has seeded those areas to a wildflower mix for beneficial insects.

This project was made possible through funding by the Finger-Lakes Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance.

By Tom Eskildsen, Senior District Technician, Yates County Soil and Water Conservation District

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