October 22, 2014

Something or high water


It's been raining pretty hard today, and now the runoff is overtopping the entire culvert.

It's not supposed to be like this; there are two big concrete pipes under the culvert which are supposed to carry the water, but they've been completely clogged up for years. Unfortunately, fixing them would either require scuba gear or a back hoe.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Daily Life at 12:45 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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1 And it's eroding it away, as water will do.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 22, 2014 01:25 PM (+rSRq)

2 I've seen water undercut a dam in a situation like that.  It was also a bridge.  One side actually bent at almost 45 degrees; the thin point on the concrete looked bent.

Posted by: RickC at October 22, 2014 03:42 PM (0a7VZ)


A culvert *is* a big concrete pipe, so I'm not sure what exactly is going on here.  Why do they have culverts crossing over each other, rather than draining to a common point?

At any rate, if a backhoe is what it would take to fix, then the owner of this thing should have a damn backhoe out there to fix it.  Deferring maintenance on drainage control structures to this extent is almost always false economy.

Posted by: CatCube at October 22, 2014 05:55 PM (fa4fh)


When this place was originally built, they used a backhoe and dug a long straight ditch through this property and the one just downstream. They needed a couple of ways to cross it, and in the park there's a bridge. Here they decided to cut corners, so they laid down a couple of concrete pipes (about 3 meters long) and then buried them with soil, which eventually grew grass on top.

But the pipes eventually got clogged up, and since water will always find a way, it eventually eroded a slot right next to the far side.

One time beavers built a dam just upstream from the culvert (literally; about 2 meters upstream) and eventually the county brought in some workmen in waders who spent a day pulling all the brush and sticks (and a few larger logs) out.

Yeah, it needs to be seriously fixed, but the problem now is that there isn't any way to get a backhoe into there any longer without cutting down trees. Fixing it with muscle power would be painful. So they've been putting it off, and trying cheap fixes. Like once they poured a whole bunch of river rock into the slot -- which washed away in the next big rainstorm.

The damage done to it today is a lot more serious than any before. About a third of the soil is completely washed away, and we're predicted for continuing rain through the weekend. And that culvert and the bridge are the only ways across it. And there are fences on both banks between them. So if you need access to the other side, you have to drive.

It is too wide to jump safely, especially since the banks are steep and muddy. You could wade across it when the water flow it low, but if you were to try to do it today you'd get swept away.

I called the manager this afternoon and told her she needed to look at it. It's up to her, and to the owner. The owner has been spending money to keep this place nice, so maybe they'll be able to find some money in the budget to fix this. Or convince the county to do it. (The land on the opposite side of the creek belongs to the county.)

Sharon told me one time that they considered building another bridge, but that would pretty much require at least a little heavy equipment, and there isn't any way to get it in there without cutting down trees.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 22, 2014 07:41 PM (+rSRq)


OK, I think I understand the site.  I'm guessing you're using the word "culvert" to mean the earthen berm and the concrete pipes underneath it. Culvert refers to a drainage pipe itself under another structure--I thought you meant that there was a culvert carrying surface runoff running 90° to the channel seen above which was itself served by two (plugged) concrete culverts, and an engineer who did something like that should be required to explain himself.

If they're concerned about the trees blocking site access, then all they have to do is keep putting off maintenance, and the water will eventually move the trees for them.  Hopefully it'll move trees before moving buildings.  Or, they could skip the upcoming grief and use chainsaws, but I guess I'm not a treehugger.

I just moved to the Pacific Northwest, and it's been raining pretty good here today (in Portland).  Aren't you somewhere up here as well?

Posted by: CatCube at October 22, 2014 08:46 PM (fa4fh)



Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 22, 2014 08:49 PM (+rSRq)

7 OK, that explains why Beaverton sounded so familiar when I got to the area.  I recognized the name, and because it was my first time in the northwest, I couldn't figure out why.

Posted by: CatCube at October 22, 2014 08:56 PM (fa4fh)


Actually, it's more likely that beavers will take out the trees than that the creek will. This creek only gets huge waterflow (like today) maybe 10 days a year or less.

Last spring the beavers ringbarked one of our big maple trees and almost got another before the handyman noticed and wrapped its trunk with chicken wire. (One side of that tree is now dead; it only grew leaves on the other side.) The beavers eventually dropped the first one, and the complex had to hire a guy to come in with a chipper and cut it up and haul it away.

That was enough to convince the complex (and some other people) to hire trappers, who came in and killed two of them. But in the last few days there's been evidence here that more beavers are around.

This is the second time they've had trappers in, and both times more beavers found this are within a year.

There are beavers all through this watershed right now, which I for one think is pretty awesome. (Beavers in Beaverton!) But they can be a nuisance.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 22, 2014 10:28 PM (+rSRq)



And here's what it looks like the next morning. It's entirely washed away a big part of the soil over the concrete pipes. One of them is now completely exposed.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 23, 2014 07:27 AM (+rSRq)

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