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Tap into farmers know-how to speed stormwater infiltration so it does not contribute to flooding and is available for future use.



Climate change is projected to result in precipitation falling via unpredictable, extreme events. We need to be able to control that water to prevent flood damage and capture and store that water for use during unpredictable droughts.

Instead of allowing surface runoff and relying on natural infiltration, we need to actively control and enhance the infiltration process.

Farmers’ long, intimate experience with drain tile can be brought to bear to address these issues.

Is this proposal for a practice or a project?


What actions do you propose?

Install perforated pipe under farmland to create stormwater leach fields.

Farmers have centuries of experience with drain tile to efficiently remove excess water from surface soil. They can use the same perforated pipe to run the water the opposite direction. Instead of sloping the pipe to quickly remove water from the soil, the same pipe can be tilted the other direction to quickly deliver water into the soil.

Stashed safely several feet below the ground surface, that water is prevented from contributing to surface runoff problems and shielded from evaporative loss. Enhancing infiltration therefore helps to minimize problems from both flooding and drought that are expected to grow enormously with climate change.

Swales and detention basins collect the stormwater initially. From there, the water is directed into perforated pipe that is sloped to efficiently deliver the water into the soil. The infiltration area is thereby increased exponentially. Instead of only infiltrating through the soil under the detention basins and swales, the water is efficiently spread to a much larger area.


Who will take these actions?

Farmers will take these actions.

Since many of the benefits will accrue to others besides the land owners themselves, the government has a role to play to internalize the externalities.

Where will these actions be taken?

These actions will be taken on farmland around the world that receives rainfall that produces significant surface runoff. An additional criteria is that the water table cannot be too high. Soil type will also have an impact.

In addition, specify the country or countries where these actions will be taken.

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What impact will these actions have on greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?

Adaptation: Reduce flooding and drought caused by climate change.
Emissions: Increased soil moisture content helps to prevent wildfire and desertification (and the resulting carbon emissions).

What are other key benefits?

Improved water quality from reduced surface runoff.

Aquifer recharge.


What are the proposal’s projected costs?

It currently costs in the low thousands of US dollars to install drainage tile in a hectare of farmland. Since the proposed infiltration tile will need to be installed deeper to avoid swamping the root zone, the cost of infiltration tile will be significantly higher.


We can begin immediately. The technology and know-how are already in place, and the benefits kick in immediately.

Once installed, a leach field should last for decades.

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