The idea here is to simply hold flowing water long enough for its silt load to settle. Often, as in the case of gabions, it is notnecessary to actually store all the water,only toslowen down its speed, allowing most of the silt to settle out.
On a large scale this strategy can create new arable land. Or the caught silt can be simply used in other activities - one smart farmer in Mexico uses a gabion wall to collect the soil that his up-stream neighbours dont seem to want , he has a very lucrative operation using it to grow tree seedlings, which he sells to his more informed neighbours.
In slowening the speed of the movement of the water, this strategy also improoves water infiltration into the soil, which can help re-charge local aquafer systems.
Again in China, (Fenxi county, Shanxi) - ref cis
This stone and wire check dam, is almost a gabion!!!! (ref rh)
Here a different version, using straw bales is suitable at a smaller scale - information from Natural Resource Conservation Service, USDA