Infiltration of surface water increases pore water pressures in slopes and reduces their stability. Common landslide features such as tension cracks and sag ponds can act as preferential pathways for surface drainage and may increase infiltration and exacerbate pore pressure–induced instability. Surface water drainage control is likewise recommended by numerous authors as an effective and inexpensive landslide mitigation method and has been shown to reduce the risk of landslides. While robust design procedures for other geotechnical applications exist (e.g., slope reduction, subsurface drains), similar procedures for landslide surface water drainage control have remained largely ad hoc and vary among practitioners. The objective of this article is to summarize technical literature related to surface water drainage control and provide a coherent design procedure for landslides.

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