n IMIESA - Pimp your earth dam wall : technical

Volume 41, Issue 7
  • ISSN : 0257-1978



With South Africa's drought being the worst in 30 years, and TV showing footage of failed crops, dead cows and thirsty towns, many a district municipality, and farmer, without a doubt, is wishing they'd been proactive and built dams while rain was still plentiful. In concept, earth dams are relatively easy to build. But, there's more to it than meets the eye. The ideal site is where gently sloping ground on two sides converges to take on a V-like form. The dam is best located at the narrowest point of convergence, where the depth of the proposed dam will be maximised and the width of its earthen dam wall minimised. Of critical importance, the floor of the dam and the dam wall foundation should consist of impervious material such as unfissured rock or clay subsoil. So, before any earthwork begins, an analysis of the soil to assess its constituents, mineral content, compaction characteristics and to check for other factors - such as mica, fine silt, sodicity, etc. - that make apparently good soil unsuitable, should be carried out. A comparison of the samples taken against recommended standards will show what earth fill is available, what overburden needs to be removed and which unsuitable areas need to be avoided.

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