run-around

A crude handmade dike, commonly constructed of sacks of sand or earth, used alone to shunt water past a spot, or sometimes in the repair of a leak in a larger dam or levee, is called a run-around. In the Dictionary of American Regional English, a Mississippi man named Percy Lanterns uses the term like this: “What you do, if you have the gumption of a catfish, is build with sacks of earth a little ‘run-around’—that is a small levee around the geyser to the height of its jet. That stabilizes the pressure, and the boil is safe.”

Susan Brind Morrow