Solutions for Self-Reliance

A Smart Start to Rainwater Harvesting


Since there was such a great response to the earlier letter on water resilience, I thought you might be interested in another one.  It’s a different way to think about it.

Let’s start. Think about all of the rain that falls on your property.  The entire property and not just your house.

Does most of it run off into your neighbor’s yard or the street?  If so, you are squandering your water.  Wasting it when you should be saving it for future productive uses.

A smart strategy for rainwater harvesting doesn’t start with expensive and complicated cisterns or tanks.  It starts with landscaping your property to maximize its ability to store water in a productive way.

To enable your landscape to capture a large volume of rainwater in a safe way, here are some tips:

  • Create curved basins (known as swales) in the landscape to allow water to naturally pool below surface.
  • Add pervious material such as rich soil, compost, and mulch to these basins to soak up and retain the water (or wood as we used in Hugelkultur if you are in an arid environment or on steeply sloped parcel).
  • Plant trees in these basins to naturally utilize this captured water and transform it into productive output such as shade (to lower temps), fruit, or nuts.

IF you want an excellent introduction to this thinking, please watch this entertaining YouTube video by Brad Lancaster (to view it from e-mail, click this link ).  Brad has been working on permaculture strategies for harvesting rainwater for over a decades.  He’s a natural born teacher.

Hope this is useful.

Your faithful guide on this resilient journey,

John Robb

PS:  IF you are interested in teaching rainwater harvesting concepts, here are some teaching materials from the University of Arizona that should be of use.

PPS:  Here’s Brad’s site.  He’s published the definitive series of books on the topic (and there’s lots of anticipation for his 3rd volume in the series).


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