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The soil in my area has a very thick clay content (apparently left behind by glaciers, damn ice age). Because of this drainage in my yard is horrible. I've put in some underground drainage (french drain) that empties into a ditch. But unfortunately the french drain is below the drain pipe, which mean the french drain system when really flooded just sits there full of water instead of draining.

I really want to stay away from sump pumps, or anything powered. I looked at creating a bell siphon, but that doesn't seem like it could pump above itself.

Could I somehow use a holding tank above ground to provide the necessary "push"of the water. I was thinking something similar to how a toilet works, that I would just have to "flush" when I wanted it to drain.

current drainage diagram

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I think you can create a self-starting siphon if you are able to add pipe to both ends of the "drain pipe." You'd extend the output end downwards until the exit of the pipe is below the bottom level of the ditch. The inlet end of the drain pipe is extended down to the bottom of the ditch (with possible filters, etc).
If I got this right, the ditch will fill until the water reaches the level of the existing drain pipe. Then the water will flow thru the drain pipe and initiate the siphoning in a manner (as you suggested) similar to a flush toilet.

The drawback is that if there's only a little runoff from the French drain and the level in the ditch doesn't reach the level of the existing output drain pipe, the siphon won't start. Not much you can do about that, I fear.

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