3-131Metropolitan Council / Barr Engineering Co.
Check dams are generally used in concentrated-flow areas, such asvegetated ditches and swales. Check dams are not used in streams orchannels. Check dams can either be permanent or temporary barriersthan prevent erosion and promote sedimentation by slowing flowvelocities and/or to filtering concentrated flows. Check dams can beconstructed from a variety of materials.Check dams tend to pond water. Under low-flow situations, waterponds behind the structure and then seeps slowly through the checkdam, infiltrates or evaporates. Under high-flow situations, waterflows over and/or through the structure. Check dams
includestaked hay bales or most types of silt fence placed in a concentrated-flow area. These materials and methods are not effective and are notrecommended.In nearly all instances, erosion control blankets should be used inconjunction with check dams. Erosion-control blankets are biodegrad-able, open-weave blankets used for establishing and reinforcingvegetation on slopes, ditch bottoms and shorelines. See Fabrics andMulch BMP for stabilization of drainageways with erosion controlblankets.
Check dams provide relatively good removal of coarse and medium-size sediment from runoff. However, most fine silt and clay particleswill pass over or though the voids on these structures. Check damsdescribed in this section provide several advantages over staked haybales: they require less maintenance, are effective in medium- toheavy-flow situations, and can be a permanent erosion-controlmeasure.Erosion control blankets provide soil stabilization and are porousenough to facilitate vegetation growth while shielding the soil surfacefrom erosion. They are always recommended for use in areas forstormwater flow. See Fabrics and Mulch BMP for information onthese practices.
Flow attenuationRunoff volume reduction
Soil erosionSediment control Nutrient loading
Total suspended sediment (TSS)Total phosphorus (P) Nitrogen (N)Heavy metalsFloatablesOil and greaseOtherFecal coliformBiochemical oxygen demand(BOD)
Primary design benefitSecondary design benefitLittle or no design benefit