What’s an Underdrain?

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Underdrains are drainage systems that remove standing water while preventing waterlogging. They prevent erosion, sinkholes, and breeding grounds for insects. The system consists of perforated pipes over gravel and can be used in agriculture, public parks, and gardens. Maintenance is required to clean and check pipes. Municipalities build sub-channels for public areas, while homeowners can connect to sewers. Options for managing ground water vary in agriculture and rural applications.

An underdrain is a drainage system to remove standing water such as stormwater runoff and irrigation water, while keeping the ground from becoming waterlogged. This can be important for safety, preventing erosion and sinkholes, and is also helpful in maintaining healthy soil conditions and eliminating hazards such as breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other insects. Drainage systems typically connect to a runoff management system, treatment plant, or waste pipe to release water into a stream.

The understaircase typically consists of perforated pipes laid over a bed of gravel. As water begins to seep into the ground, it seeps through the gravel and into small boreholes for collection. The basement can function as part of a larger network that brings water to a central location for handling and disposal. There are variations on this basic design for different settings, and companies that specialize in drain installation and drainage management can advise on the best options.

Gravel in the drainage system is an important component. Prevents plugging of holes in the pipe by trapping particulate matter. Over time, the gravel will eventually take some impact and it may be necessary to dig out the drainage to clean it and check the pipes to make sure they are in good condition. Usually, the system is designed to be effective over a long period of time without maintenance.

Underground drainage is sometimes necessary, as seen in regions where agricultural runoff controls mandate the use of drainage systems to trap water instead of allowing it to flow freely. In other cases, it can be done to make the land more usable. Structures on low or soggy ground can be prone to problems unless underdrainage is installed to keep the ground drier, for example, and these devices can also be used in places such as public parks and gardens.

Municipalities are typically responsible for building sub-channels in public areas and connecting them to systems used for street stormwater management. Individual homeowners can hook up to sewers if they wish to install underground drains, sometimes simply by fitting a drainage system to divert water into street gutters. For agriculture and rural applications, options for managing ground water vary and may include collecting it in drums, driving it onto unused land, pouring it into streams or pushing it through a small water treatment plant wastewater before releasing it into the environment.

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