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Water Flow Fixes: Concrete Flowlines/Swales

By February 9, 2017March 22nd, 2017All Posts, Concrete, Our Commitment, Uncategorized

Water flow has always been integrated into the paving process. As you can see from the collage above, swales were utilized in the past and helped to cultivate what we now know as flowlines, which we use and utilize in today’s paving process.

Water damage, whether it is pouring down, sitting(a.k.a pooling), seeping, or washing things away, it is pavement’s biggest nemesis. The damage and deterioration of pavement from fluids caused by weather, irrigation or washing is a constant battle that we can help fight for you. The proper placement and installation of flowlines or curbs and gutters can help your pavement last longer and in turn saving you more money in the long run!

Construction of a concrete flowline is typically 12″, 18″, 24″ or more wide, 4 or more inches thick installed across the length of the area to be protected. Two rods of steel rebar are embedded in the concrete to provide strength.

Concrete Flowline (CCFL)  

Alternative Names: Swale, Permanent Waterway, Drainage Way

The name “swale” is Old English in origin, and is believed to mean “swirling, rushing river,” or “rushing water”. A swale is a depression created in the ground that carries water runoff by gravity away from damaging your home or property. Flowlines, a.k.a. “swales”, collect that “rushing water” and helps to control that water drainage by directing it to catch basins, drain boxes, and curb drains. These control measures help prevent costly damage from standing or running water eroding the asphalt or concrete pavement in an association or on a property.

Example of how water can be directed to catch basins, drain boxes, and curb drains using a concrete flowline/swale paired with curb and gutters such as these shown here found in a Home Owners Association.

A swale is designed to collect rainwater on your property and the only way to do this without a pump is by gravity flow.  Therefore, a swale collects the water by being the lowest point in a given area and then is pitched to wherever you want the water to go.  When we say pitched, we mean the ground is sloped to allow the water to roll downhill within the swale.


“Roadway A” shows how a properly placed concrete flowline/swale helps to control and direct the flow of water. This protects the pavement structure from getting the absolute exhaustive damage from water and stabilizes the overall integrity of the roadway section.

“Roadway B” shows how properly placed concrete Curb & Gutters help to control and direct the flow of water. This protects the pavement structure from getting the absolute exhaustive damage from water and stabilizes the overall integrity of the roadway section.

Advantages to Concrete Flowlines and Curb & Gutters

  • Protects your asphalt and other surrounding pavement from getting the absolute exhaustive damage from water.
  • Directs surface water runoff in a non-erosive manner to catch basins, drain boxes, and curb drains.
  • May be less expensive to install than other conveyance measures and it is easier to maintain than other conveyance systems.
  • Prevents the discharge of stormwater runoff and flooding on a property.
  • Saves you money by extending the life of the surrounding pavement, keeping you from making repairs earlier and more frequently.

This video shows a newly installed concrete swale draining water to a catch basin that goes to underground infiltration tanks:


Caliber Paving Company has years of concrete experience and we understand the technical aspects of design, installation, and repair for all varieties of concrete flowlines, swales, curbs, and gutters. Let us help fix and prevent water flow issues for you and bring your property to its full and long lasting potential.


Photo of roadway that was fixed and upgraded by Caliber Paving where we replaced the concrete flowline/swale, concrete curbs, and asphalt at Alders Apartments located in the city of Tustin, CA. Final step is to add seal coat over the top of the asphalt.


 “The Challenges faced by professionals as related to the management of storm water runoff are rapidly changing. First-generation storm water management focused on providing flood protection and limiting peak flow, whereas now a greater emphasis is being placed on water quality. Consequently, storm water management is shifting with more emphasis on treatment practices and techniques to improve storm water quality to protect against stream, river and estuary degradation.”

Stormwater Management for Smart Growth

By Allen P. Davis, Richard H. McCuen