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Jun 01

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Better Ditches, Clean Water Riches

It’s time to ditch the notion that all ditches are created equal. With a few smart improvements, a roadside ditch can lead to cleaner water. Listen up:


The ubiquitous roadside ditch (via CBDM)

Here’s the new and improved job description for the ubiquitous ditch: A thoughtfully engineered ditch reduces flooding and water pollution, contributing to cleaner waterways everywhere.

The opportunity for improvement is truly bountiful. “Roadside ditches criss-cross every watershed. They’re everywhere,” comments Rebecca Schneider of Cornell University.

She says ditches move water so quickly they cause flooding downstream and dry out the area upstream. Ditches also wash excess nutrients and sediment into streams.

But changing how ditches are managed can help.

Schneider points out that sending the water into a wetland, lining the ditches with vegetation, and making them more shallow and wide would help slow the water.

“If we can re-plumb the watershed, disconnect it just from streams,” she explains, “we can reduce flooding, we can reduce water pollution—and help with drought.”

So with a little makeover from the right pro engineering team, ditches could indeed provide a multitude of benefits.

Get schooled:

The fine print:

 

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.currentcast.org/stormwater-management/roadside-ditches/