Large parts of South Africa have been in the grip of a drought for some time: crops fail, the natural vegetation shrivels, and some rivers even stop flowing. Rain eventually falls and we have to be ready for it by making sure the house gutters are clean and that storage tanks are in place to catch the water; and municipal drains should be kept clear to ensure the steady flow of water from the streets will be channelled into the right drains that will take it to where it is best used. That is a joke in our town – I could add that it would help if the potholes were filled in and that places where the roads have been dug up to repair pipes would withstand the run-off from the rain better if the holes were filled, tamped down and tarred instead of being left to become dams that allow the rest of the tar to become undermined.

It is the erosive quality of fast-running water that is the downside of any rain other than the light mizzle we have been experiencing now and then. Engineers who design the national roads take this into account when building the drains and installing culverts alongside them. Take a closer look next time you are on a long trip and note how the drains not only carry large volumes of water (should there be so much rain) away from the surface of the road, but also have structures in place to prevent a torrent of water eroding the side of the road by breaking the flow and dispersing the run-off more evenly into the veld.

The national parks and game reserves do much the same, especially now that so many of their roads are tarred. Here is an example of what I mean taken from the Mountain Zebra National Park:

stormwater drain
In the Great Fish River Nature Reserve steps have been taken to prevent further erosion on the edge of roads and near the culverts by enclosing rocks in wire mesh.


We all need to take a closer look around our gardens too so that we can note where the flow of water could be channelled or disperesed in a better way to prevent both wastage and unecessary erosion – when the rains come!


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