steep hill; drainage issues

canoesJanuary 2, 2010

I bought a small house in N GA built into the side of a hill. The driveway is narrow and I tried to get the turnaround enlarged at side of house. It seems we uncovered a wet weather stream...GA is having a record rain year. It's a saga... Water is running down the drive and freezing on cold mornings. I just had a couple french drains run under the gravel turnaround and drive at the top ($1225). It didn't solve the problems.

Two issues I'd love advice on.

Water is still seeping/freezing onto the drive, which is paved until it reaches top. Impassable some mornings.The drive comes straight up the hill until it gets to the front of house/turnaround, then turns to the front of turnaround/house. The suggestion is to put in more french drains under the turnaround and run them along uphill side of drive. Think that will solve it?

The other problem is that water is pouring out of one of the pipes from under drive. Since it's a steep bank with a couple giant boulders and trees, I'm concerned about erosion. Suggesion is to run a pipe down hill. I'm wondering if I put in a "dry" creek bed rather than pipe, if it would look better and help with erosion. Not sure if water will return in drier years. I've had house almost 2 years with record drought initially, now record rain.

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A dry creek bed makes the most sense to me. I would dig down a little first, maybe making a sloping bank for your dry creek bed and make it meandering slightly--like going around your boulders, but always going downhill. Plant some native plants along the edges. A dry river bed would look good and solve your water issues for now and in future. Who knows if the water will return, but if it does you will be prepared

The sight below shows just how it is done

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 6:53AM
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I would be very cautious about accepting advice on drainage issues from a remote forum with varying levels of expertise and who are not there in person to investigate and view the situation firsthand. Issues in correcting (or attempting to correct) drainage problems pose all sorts of liabilities you need to be aware of and if not done properly, will only exacerbate the situation. I'd have big concerns right now that 2 newly installed french drains have done nothing to alleviate the problem.

It sounds to me like you need to hire a drainage specialist/soil engineer to evaluate the problem thoroughly and make informed recommendations for correction.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 10:56AM
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I agree with gardengal but please hire someone who knows what they are doing and not someone who puts French drains under a driveway to deal with surface water.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 11:10AM
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This topic seems to pop up here frequently. I suppose there is no building requirement that a house or structure be built entirely in the vadose zone and most contractors probably don't do any type of potentiometric study before they dig. As mentioned above, it is difficutlt to diagnose these types of issues based upon lay descriptions. A good lessons learned though, as I always wanted to retire to an earth sheltered house built into a slope, but now second thoughts!

In general, If you lower the ground-surface to below the watertable, then, in the absence of a confining layer, groundwater will become surface water. Think of a stream that is always flowing or a lake that is always full even with no apparent surface drainage into it; one reason is because water is groundwater upwelling into it from beneath (a "gainer"). Whether or not this is occuring at your property across a broad area or a more highly transmissive seam has been exposed it not clear.

A local hydraulogist or professional geologist (PG) would be able to diagnose this with on-site observations and/or installation of piezometers to gauge the local water table.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 6:59PM
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