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Posted by Mary in PA on 10/30/2009

We’re on a rain delay for the driveway, which was supposed to go in yesterday and today. And we’re to get rain each day for the next several days – so we’ll have to wait. But there are always other things to do, such as dealing with the terrace failure problem. 


Our property was part of a larger farm that was subdivided into three parcels; 60 acre, 20 acre and our 30 acres. And back in the 1980’s a farm terrace system was implemented on this land. The terrace system is a series of ditches, underground drains and grassy waterways – that in 2009 now cross three property lines.  The ditches are a few feet deep and wide and run for hundreds of feet, to guide storm water to an underground drain system. I know it sounds really ugly – but if the ditches drain properly and can therefore support vegetation, they pretty much fade into the visual landscape of the acres of farmland. The drain transports storm water down the eastern slope to flow out onto a grassy waterway and eventually to a stream on a neighboring property. In 1980, the idea was to prevent storm water from carrying away topsoil.


This terrace-drain system has definitely seen better days. One drain on the neighbor’s property and about 50 feet from our property line has failed, likely many years ago. The failed drain creates standing storm water about two feet deep at the drain and backs up several hundred feet onto our property. The standing water kills the pasture grass we planted, invites invasive weeds and creates a mosquito problem in the warm weather. The tail end of this backed-up stormwater stretches into a shallow soggy area very near our planned building site. Bummer.


The easy thing would be to fix the failed drain – except it isn’t on our property and it won't be easy at all. At three feet down and likely filled with years worth of silt, rusty and sitting in a saturated area… well... it doesn't seem a DIY job with hand tools. I’m working on contacting the new owners of the other lot to see if we can work together on fixing the drain. Barring that, we’ll need to do something on our land to help drain the water. In the short term, John and I will try to siphon the storm water out of the ditch down to the next terrace where there is a working drain input. Hopefully we’ll be able to drain off enough to get a better look... or allow an excavator to look/work… or at least we’ll have some fun playing in the mud.

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