DesignEarthworks & Earth ResourcesLandStorm WaterSwalesWaterWater Harvesting

Swales in North Texas Take on 2.5 inches of Rain and Perform Perfectly

In this video, Jack Spirko, shows just how effective good Permaculture Earthworks are in capturing 26,000 Gallons of water from a “barn burner of a storm”.

This morning we got 3 hours of pouring rain. Then this afternoon we got hit with close to an inch in less than 30 minutes, and it totally filled the swales and overflowed them all. To drive home how passive this water system is, this video was shot only 5 minutes after the storm stopped.

The other storm I mentioned did hit us as well, and we got another 30 minutes of hard rain about 30 minutes after this video, everything continued to perform perfectly.

Jack Spirko also hosts The Survival Podcast, which is, a daily online audio show about self-sufficiency and self-reliance in the modern world. He conceived and created this podcast because he had come to the realization that the human condition and the United States economy was extremely fragile. Jack Spirko now runs this show full-time and records it each morning in his home office.

You can find other posts by Jack Spirko here.

Jack Spirko

Spirko founded The Survival Podcast aka TSP in June of 2008 while still working with his partner Neil Franklin. During the first 18 months of the show (June of 2008 - Dec. of 2009) Spirko did the show during his 55 mile commute from his personal mobile studio a 2006.5 Jetta Diesel TDI. The show quickly grew in popularity attracting about 2,000 daily listeners by the end of 2008, by the end of 2009 the show was being listened to by close to 15,000 people daily. At that time Spirko made the decision to take the show to a full time endeavor. Today the show attracts over 100,000 daily listeners and is referred to by Spirko as his "life's work" and his "true calling".


  1. What an amazing demonstration of how swales hold onto the water that would otherwise be lost in a torrential rain event like this. Love the video Jack

  2. Great video. It makes me realize again how important it is to have passive overflow of water without bringing a lot of soil with it!

    1. It’s not illegal in Oregon. The state actually encourages this technique as a method of erosion control.

  3. @DaveC, actually this would NOT be illegal in Oregon and don’t believe that stupid story going around it was made up BS and the guy that went to jail had knowingly bought land inside a STATE PROTECTED water shed and had agree NOT to impound water as a condition of purchase. That said even where impounding water is illegal, swales don’t impound water, they are land forms, they don’t violate any law, as long as any water that leaves is returned to the same catchment it came in on.

    Note I am talking federal and state laws. There are some towns and cities now where you need a flipping “earth disturbance permit” to dig a hold say greater than 10 inches deep and it must be inspected when you are done. That would you mean you need a permit to plant a tree! In such places you have bigger issue to worry about and you should move, immediately.

  4. We too are in N TX & we just got hit by all that rain. We got FLOODED out twice & almost lost our blueberries twice from erosion. We are just learning about permaculture, thanks to dear friends who took Geoff’s desin course. We were unclear as to the actual make up of the swales so THANK YOU for the examples. It helps to see from another N Texan that just got probably the same, or close to the same amount of rain. I will definitely be checking out your videos for more info!

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