like a river in my back yard
We have a retention basin on the side of our house, all the rain, from the houses on the uphill side of us, runs down through our backyard like a river and into the basin. After it rains the "river" stays soggy for over a week. Any ideas how to get it to drain better? Or to dry it out? When I mow, the river area gets matted down and looks terrible. It's about 3 feet wide and 125 feet long.
I had a similar situation when building a Habitat house and we did what I saw them do at our local golf course. Scoop out the middle of the stream to a depth of about one foot and taper the sides up to grade level. You will need a small back hoe. Put a sheet of heavy plastic in the bottom of the stream bed and fill with good sized crushed stone up to the level of the lawn. We already had our building permit for the whole house. Check with the building inspector to see if you need a permit or there are other regulations.
I'd suggest that you approach this very cautiously. What you're describing sounds like a stromwater detention pond that is probably part of the housing developments stormwater pollutant prevention plan. I don't work in Pennsylvania, so I don't know what agencies regulate Stormwater or their rules. In most states it's the Department of Environmental Quality or Department of Health. Depending on the size of your community, the municipality may also have regulatory authority. If you impact part of a permitted stormwater management system, and you cause an exceedence of a water quality standard, you may open yourself up to serious legal issues. Additionally, if you start digging in creek channels that may be connected to waters of the U.S. you may need to deal with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act which is regulated through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Violations to Section 404 can result in huge fines.
I'm not saying don't do anything, I'm just suggesting that you do your homework first. I wouldn't want to see you get in trouble.
On a more practical standpoint, getting the pond to dry is a complicated question. If itís a constructed pond it may be designed so that it doesnít drain quickly. It may have a clay lining that is intended to slow infiltration. However it may have been designed to infiltrate, but has accumulated sediment over the years that is slowing infiltration. When I design these, I like to get things to infiltrate as fast as possible unless Iíve got a high water table and am concerned with impacts to ground water quality. If that is not the case, your best bet is to remove the accumulated sediment. Unfortunately thatís not as easy as it sounds either. Youíd probably need to have the material tested to ensure it doesnít have any regulated pollutants like metals. If it does, youíll need to jump through hoops to dispose of the material.
One other option that you could look into would be to plant vegetation species that has a high transpiration rate. I can't recommend anything because I don't know what grows well in Pennsylvania. You'd want to make sure this is in line with the functioning of the strormwater plan.
I wish you luck!
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