What is a Drainage Slope?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2019
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A drainage slope is calculated for the purpose of controlling groundwater or surface water. Slope is a simple situation of rise over run in terms of topography. Drainage slope calculations help engineers and others to design homes and commercial spaces with the ability to handle groundwater.

Drainage slopes may be helpful in some kinds of home improvement calculations. French drains and similar structures use a specific drainage model for slope to route water effectively. Other landscaping designs using drainage slope techniques can help a property to manage storm water and other surface water on a regular basis.

This kind of slope may be important in a building permit or other municipal process for a new building or annex to an existing building. Local governments look closely at how additional paving in an area will affect groundwater. A drainage slope is often part of the equation for looking at how surface water will act in a flood situation.

Developers and builders will often pay attention to local ordinances or laws about surface water that include drainage slope requirements. These kinds of laws help to protect existing buildings from damage due to water runoff from nearby areas. A drainage slope is often part of an effective solution for routing water into a retention basin, or using some other strategy to effectively control water flow.


Engineers can use a drainage calculation of slope for a wide variety of purposes. This calculation may be helpful in combined water-sewer projects, for instance, where on-lot systems may be subject to hazards involving overflow. A drainage slope is a versatile statistic that is good to have on hand when looking at any provisions for protecting health and safety by making sure that local surface water does not get out of control, either during regular seasonal precipitation or in long term storm models.

Although drainage slopes have been part of the architectural process for centuries, older civilizations used drainage slope regulations for different kinds of purposes. In older societies, drainage slopes were used for aquaducts and other public infrastructure, to help run potable water to specific locations. Today, when drinking water and other potable water sources are run through pipes, a drainage calculation for slope is most useful in controlling what many think of as “waste water,” or stormwater runoff.


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