Drainage Measure

Here the problems with drainage are shown and the difficulties of solving them amicably with the neighbour with the help of the authorities. Then a very elaborate but aesthetically beautiful solution is presented, which still works well.

Chapter: Milestones / Headwind / Demolition Notice / Drainage

Drainage at the Friedensmal: Challenges, Authorities, and Solutions

About the Problem

The impermeable clay soil necessitated drainage in front of the entrance to the Friedensmal. The water is collected in a cistern. This water can be used for irrigation in the summer and for cleaning the structure. The measure was implemented in the spring of 2012 when the Friedensmal was completed, effectively solving the problem of standing water in front of the structure after rain.

The Neighboring Property and Drainage Issues

The neighboring property was sold. Due to a new neighbor's boundary measure, the water's drainage towards Lautertal was blocked. Mud regularly washed down the path, eventually blocking the only drainage outlet. The KMB (Kommunalwirtschaft Mittlere Bergstraße) regularly made breakthroughs at the neighboring property towards Lautertal. However, this was discontinued when the property got a new owner who implemented an effective boundary measure.

The Urgency of the Situation

This led to a serious water problem affecting the Friedensmal's structure. The feeling of helplessness and urgency grew daily. Since the simple solution failed for over 1.5 years despite numerous inquiries to the authorities, we had to unilaterally solve the problem through a very expensive protective measure.

The Solution and Its Implementation

The Friedensmal is built in a slight depression. We leveled the ground around the monument to prevent water from accumulating. Instead, it now seeps into the flat lawn around the circle. Most of the water comes down both sides of the path. With two shallow drainage ditches, the water is now drained off on both sides in front of the peace site towards the village Hochstädten before it can become a problem.

Interaction with Authorities

The relief when the measure was completed is indescribable. The measure was quickly coordinated with the municipality of Lautertal, as the path belongs to them. There were no more discussions with the Heppenheim district authority, as they were not willing to help solve our problem. Instead, the district councilor even prohibited a sensible small solution that could have been implemented with the KMB and the owners of the path. But since the building fabric was at risk, we had to act. As an association, we then implemented a solution that had to be large, as we were forced to find a solution that we could also implement unilaterally.

Conclusion and Outlook

The drainage issue posed many challenges, both technical and bureaucratic. It was a rocky road, but ultimately we found a solution that protects the Friedensmal. For the future, we hope that our experiences can help other projects and that communication with the authorities can be improved.

The following photos are from the situation before our drainage measure. A depression had already formed in the earth in front of the entrance to the
Friedensmal and it was to be feared that there would be serious damage to the structure in winter. Since there were unusually many and long rains for months after the measure, we had probably actually prevented the building fabric from being destroyed or the Friedensmal from sinking with this drainage measure.

Wasserproblem vor der Entwässerung

Attached is a letter to the KMB, one of many letters regarding the drainage issue. We would have gladly spared ourselves the measure, which additionally cost over 30,000 euros. We only took the drainage measure after trying unsuccessfully for over 1.5 years to draw attention to the existential threat to the Friedensmal in Bensheim with city councilors and in Heppenheim with the head of the district authority and the KMB.

Notes: The names in the following letters have been abbreviated. It's not about individuals, but the story.

Letter to the Municipal Operation (KMB) dated June 27, 2013

Dear Mr. ...,

I kindly ask for a prompt reply.

Today, by the way, a tree at the Selterswasserhäuschen fell and got caught in the branches of other trees over the roadway. My workers at the monument spent the morning defusing the dangerous situation as quickly as possible. I just want to show you that we are genuinely committed to the common good.

I would like to request a meeting on-site at the Friedensmal as soon as possible. The ground in front of the monument has already formed a small hollow. I am concerned about the structure.

The drainage of the path is no longer given, and it is in terrible condition right in front of the entrance to the monument, causing visitors to bring in a lot of unnecessary mud.

I would like to present our measures for solving the problem and would like to hear from you how the path can be repaired so that it remains durable in the long term. I would like to share my ideas with you.

If necessary, you could include a clerk from the district authority or the city of Bensheim in the meeting. I don't know who else needs to be addressed on this matter. 


This is a letter from the district councilor, which shows that our extensions were tolerated and that the authority was well aware that we had a serious problem with the drainage at the monument. Instead of solving the problem we described, they let it come to the point where significant damage to the Friedensmal would occur. Only then did we decide on our own protective measure without making it known to the authority beforehand.

Letter from the District Councilor of Kreis Bergstraße, Mr. S. dated July 1, 2013

Dear Mr. Zieringer,

Referring to your email dated June 27, 2013, to District Administrator W. and City Councilor R., the following:

A permit requirement for the design of the fence in such a way that it fits into a (subjective) overall picture in harmony with the erected Friedensmal is not legally possible and therefore could not have been ordered by my authority. In this respect, your reference to my authority is incorrect. Also, no misconduct or similar is evident in this context, as you are aware through correspondence with your lawyer.

Regarding the Friedensmal, I must, however, point out that you have meanwhile made further structural interventions there, which were not part of the original application for the construction of the Friedensmal and are also not covered by the corresponding approval. These structural interventions were identified on April 15, 2013, and include:

- 1 memorial stone at the edge of the path with framing and inscription made of metal letters
- 2 obelisks with foundations, one each to the left and right of the memorial stone, as well as 2 yew trees
- 2 stone benches, one each to the north and south, approximately 10 meters from the Friedensmal
- 4 garden benches, 2 of which are at the memorial stone and 2 on the lawn
- 1 sign
- Storage area for topsoil, wooden planks, and some building material

I point out that these structural interventions are not covered by the approval for the construction of the Friedensmal and hereby request you to cease further construction activities at the Friedensmal and its surroundings.

Regarding the drainage issue, I would like to point out that it is a field or farm path. Sealing and or trenching are not possible in the outdoor area. The KMB has been informed accordingly by me.

With kind regards,
District Councilor

In response to the claim that the area was more beautiful before our drainage measures and that we destroyed valuable nature, I present these pictures. By the way, there are no 'obelisks' at the monument as mentioned in the letter from the district councilor. In fact, these are the bases (steles) of the information panels. The panels themselves were not mounted on the steles at the time because they had been repeatedly twisted out of their anchors, and we wanted to let things settle down first.

Matsch vor dem Denkmal

Unser Entwässerungsgraben funktioniert
These are pictures from May 1st after a heavy downpour. They show how well the drainage measures are working. This is one of the designed drainage ditches. You can see that water has flowed away here. At the same time, it is so subtly designed that it doesn't stand out in the landscape.

Das Gras ist angewachsen
The Friedensmal right after a rain. There is no standing water anywhere. Even in front of the entrance, there is no water anymore.

Weg nach der Entwässerungsmaßnahme
The path is reliably drained by our measures and is in good condition.

Next Chapter:  Official Order

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