Debris flows are frequently responsible for deaths and destruction of property in many parts of the world. One method of controlling debris flows is to construct a debris basin in the depositional area of the debris flow path to contain all or part of a debris flow or multiple flows. In this paper, considerations in the design of debris retention basins are discussed and methods of estimating design parameters are reviewed. Failure of debris basins can be disastrous. Homes, roadways, and property can be destroyed in addition to loss of life. While prediction of debris volume and frequency is essential to the basin design, maintenance of the basin is essential to the basin survival. A debris basin cannot function as designed if the basin is not properly maintained. This requires that the basin be emptied of its contents on a regular basis and after major debris flow events so that the basin can contain debris from future flows. Failure to keep the basin free of debris increases the risk of failure.
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