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Friday, July 13, 2012

Storing Water for Dry Times

Water is a vital nutrient for any animal or plant.  Without water, life would quickly come to an end on this planet.  Yet only a very small percentage of the water on earth is freshwater and can be used for the plants or animals that people normally raise.  So we must be careful with the water that we do have.  Right now most of the Midwest is in a drought.  This is not a completely uncommon occurrence, and it seems that every few years there is not enough water or too much water at the wrong time.  The rain is a blessing and a curse.  Yet it could easily be seen as a blessing whenever and however it falls.

There are several great books on storing and stewarding the water you have.  One of the best is a set of books by Brad Lancaster called Rainwater Harvesting Vol.1 and Vol. 2.  Lancaster lives in the "sun belt" and most yards and gardens there require huge amounts of supplemental watering.  Brad looked at the way in which things were planted and realized that there was a huge amount of water that could be used, freely, and would help with his own yard and garden.

Rainwater harvesting focuses mainly on using the landscape in such a way that water can quickly soak in and be stored.  Rather than encouraging runoff from storms; swales, dams and other earthworks help discourage erosion and aid in keeping the plants well watered.  Lancaster points to certain desert peoples from the ancient near east who could sustain agriculture on around 4 inches of rain a year.  Surely we could learn something from this type of dry land agriculture.

Art Ludwig's book, Water Storage, is another great help to those trying to use the water that is available to them.  Mostly the book focuses on the use of ferro-cement, a lightweight form of concrete, to make water storage devices.  He points out the amount of water available from roofs and other catchment systems, and the numbers are amazing.  If 1 inch of rain falls on 1000 square feet of impermeable surface (like a roof or a parking lot) there is 623 gallons of runoff.  If that runoff is caught and used, even for things like watering a garden or fire prevention, there is much less draw on well or city water.

The last book that I would like to recommend is The Home Water Supply by Stu Campbell.  Campbell's book focuses much more on domestic water issues such as water pressure, digging a well, or finding ways to prevent contaminating groundwater.  If you are in the country and are not going to be hooked up to a rural or city water supply, this book is the one that you need to find out more about your options and the challenges ahead of you.

All of these books focus on different aspects of water for the home.  Some of the books are about finding ways to use the water that is available naturally to our best advantage, while others are about the practicalities of hooking up a plumbing system and using well water off the grid.  No matter what you plan to do, or where you live, water and proper water usage is going to come up. 

These books and others on water and water storage can be found here.

Live a Hands On Life

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