Drainage ditches; swales-image

Drainage ditches; swales

  • Description
  • Fields of action
  • Synergies
  • Good practice examples
  • References

Ditches allow intercepting, infiltrating and alternatively draining the surface runoff without causing damage. They should be dimensioned to the corresponding return period of the discharge, meet functional requirements and get regular control and maintenance. Ditches on farmland are usually proposed in areas where the space for constructing furrows is limited. Within urban areas they are part of the urban drainage system and can have a variety of cross sections to suit the urban landscape. They can include the use of planting to provide enhanced visual appeal and water treatment. The measure requires an occupation of land. Therefore, settlement of property rights relations is necessary.

Fields of action Buildings,Farmland,Forests
Additionally to flood risk reduction by storing and drainage surface runoff, the measure has medium or high possible benefits for the following biophysical impacts and ecosystem services: Intercept pollution pathways; Increase evapotranspiration; Aesthetic/cultural value (e.g. they can serve as division elements of a landscape); Biodiversity preservation; Climate change adaptation and mitigation; Filtration of pollutants; Increase infiltration and/or groundwater recharge; Reduce erosion and/or sediment delivery


  • Office International de l’Eau (2015): Natural Water Retention Measures, URL: http://nwrm.eu (19.03.2020): channels and rills, swales
  • Výzkumný ústav vodohospodářský TGM (2018): Katalog přírodě blízkých opatření pro zadržení vody v krajině [Catalogue of green water retention measures in the landscape], URL: http://www.suchovkrajine.cz/vystupy (25.03.2020): Příkop
  • Hamburg Wasser (Ed.) (2012): Wie schütze ich mein Haus vor Starkregenfolgen?: ein Leitfaden für Hauseigentümer, Bauherren und Planer [How do I protect my house from the effects of heavy rain?: a guide for homeowners, builders and planners], URL: http://www.hamburg.de/contentblob/3540740/data/leitfaden-starkregen.pdf (20.03.2020): Bodensenken
  • Amt der Oberösterreichischen Landesregierung (2015): Hangwassermanagement Maßnahmenkatalog [management of pluvial floods catalogue of measures] (unpublished brochure, online version accessible at URL: https://www.land-oberoesterreich.gv.at/222593.htm): Abflussgraben, Abflussmulde

Výzkumný ústav vodohospodářský T. G. Masaryka. v.v.i.