Water Catchment and Water Shed Design Basics

The most important starting point for any sustainable design starts with Water.  Water is the prime energy source of the Earth.  The needs of water conservation are urgent and drastic and the benefits of conserving, storing, and saturating water into the landscape, are GREAT.

Rain Barrel attached to the gutter of the Garage on our Urbie Permie Farm in Sugarland Tx. The overflow spout feeds a row of rose bushes. Multiply functions in just one system.

Your plants will need water, the sheet mulch and top soil will need water, your living beings on your property need water.  The permaculture principal with water is: Catch it, slow it, store it, spread it.  The more water you can store the better, the more water you can slow and spread and saturate your landscape the better.  The only reason a property might flood or have over saturation is only because of one minor detail:  The Design is Wrong!  With a proper sustainable (permaculture) Water Shed and Water Catchment Design System there is no such thing as over saturation.  Storing water is storing energy, and that means that the entire circle of life on your property whether it’s Urban or Rural, will benefit by thousands of times the potential if water is preserved and used mindfully.

Catching water in a rain barrel is not the only Water Shed and Water Catchment Strategy.  When we think of water catchment we think of what is coming off our buildings and that’s great!  It’s a huge circumference area to work with.  Rarely do we think about the water that is hitting the ground.  There are so many design strategies that work with your land mass along contour lines to benefit the spread and saturation of water in the Landscape.  The use of installing “Swales” on your property big or small will dramatically and positively effect the water saturation and use on your property.  Swales are small trenches dug out of landscape on the contour.  Contour is the slope of land moving at a level point around the property.  Water and soil irrigation all move at a 90 degree angle to contour.  If you dig a swale along contour the water moving down contour from the high point of your property will saturate into the swale and sink and spread deeper into the landscape.  The mound of top soil on the downhill side of the swale is where all the growing happens.  And instantly you have a system that waters and grows itself.

The Swales here are filled with mulch which provides extra nutrients and water saturation. The swales on contour here support strawberry patches and other fruit and vegetable plants along the “Berm” (berms are the growing mounds adjacent to the swale.) This photo was taken during our Permaculture Design Course in Eugene OR on the Dharmalaya Urban Permaculture Community Village.

Another very simple design implementation for catching water off your landmass is “Curb Cuts.”  There are 100’s of gallons of water running off our drive ways, sidewalks, and other paved areas.  The water runs off the pavement into the sewer drain and out into the rivers and streams.  Installing simple cuts and irrigation along the side of your driveways and sidewalks, and directing the cut into a swale that feeds water to plants is yet another instant implementation that you will see results of water saturation and sustainability within the first heavy rain.  For more information on Water Catchment and Water Shed design contact us and we will provide what ever service you like.  We have plenty of rain barrels to go around and we offer the service of coming to your property to instal them.  The time is now.  Texas is in a major drought, we have to conserve all the water we can.  Not to mention it will dramatically reduce your water bill and energy costs.

contact: j.tyagaraja@gmail.com

Digging a swale on contour during our Permaculture Design Course in Eugene OR on the Kindred Spirits Organic Garden. The mound of soil above the swale will be the growing berms for fruits and veggies.


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