How permaculture sees and works with water

To counter both the increasing privatization of water into plastic bottles for sale,

Should water be a public good (and not privatized)

and the accelerating trend towards cities and states claiming water that falls on one’s own private property,

Collecting Rainwater now illegal in many states (video)

let’s look at how permaculture sees and works with water. I’m convinced that a lot of scarcity consciousness can be dispelled if we let our imaginations soar. Indeed, a good permaculture design requires that we leave rote-memorization behind and restart the engine of imagination! YES!

Decentralized Natural Water Management Systems

August 7, 2013


With water retention landscapes, it is possible to provide enough freshwater for animals, plants and humans beings in every region of the world. Water is the key to a stable climate. A natural built reservoir that allows water to seep into the ground has a balancing effect on the climate. There is no life without water. We need to create natural, decentralised water landscapes, using retention methods to collect rain water and store it on the land to promote the growth of vegetation.

All around the planet the soil is drying out and water is being lost due to bad management of resources, centuries of intense and incorrect cultivation methods have resulted in the drying out of the land.

Contour lines and natural watercourses are a very valuable aid when designing a retention space. The first step is to look, to read the landscape, to recognise the contour lines, and how the water will run and collect. The lakes and ponds need to be placed in the low and deep zones, where water from a large catchment area can be collected. Most valleys have a narrow point and the dam needs to go there. The core of the dam consists of loam and a aquifer ( barrier) that is watertight.

The existing vegetation can show us where to build the lake. For example, wool grass, cotton grass, moss, reeds, willows, alders or downy birches all indicate ample moisture in the ground.

It is possible to build a lake anywhere using the catchment area of the rain flow, which will in no time, fill the lake with rain water. Water retention landscapes are natural and don’t need to be built with concrete or sealed with plastic sheets ( pond liner), we don’t want a retention landscape to be watertight. The earth itself is the water storing body. The only place that needs to be watertight is the dam. By using only natural materials the earth can benefit and the water can permeate surrounding areas restoring the hydrological balance. A water retention space needs to promote biodiversity, terraces, different depths, a rich plant life, many insects,animals and reptiles. The more diverse, the more stable.

A lake should be build to enable three ways of water movement :

  1. with curved banks to allow a constant flow.
  2. aligned with the wind to allow wave movements.
  3. with deep and shallow zones to make the water move because of differences in temperature.

All that lives wants to move. The same is true for water. Through moving, it rejuvenates and stays alive. It oxygenates through moving which enables self- cleansing. Water never runs straight, water becomes stagnant and begins to decay and stink when a lake is build in a square or rectangular shape with straight banks.


Floating agriculture can be used in areas where agricultural land is submerged or inundated for extended periods, like areas having the monsoon season. This system can also be used in large lakes, canals, ponds, rivers and other water systems.

The area under floating cultivation is up to 10 times more productive than traditional farmed land. There is little maintenance needed since there is no soil, not additional chemicals fertilizers or manure is required, and plant disease and weeds are rare. Also by cultivating crops in the water it is possible to harvest fish populations which reside in the beds……………..” This is the real natural sustainable Aquaponics system”.

Floating agriculture practices have minimal infrastructure and very little capital requirement, costs are very low because raw materials for the construction of the beds are readily available from local waterways.

To make the beds the Water Hyacinth, a highly invasive weed with prolific growth rates, is used in floating agriculture in a great beneficial way as a floating layer, straw or rice stubble is added, then upper layers of small and quick rotting waterworts on top are added, which make for good manure, while the structure of the floating raft is strengthened with bamboo, then big bamboo poles are used to fix it in position to avoid damage cause by waves or drifting.

Floating crops systems can contribute forward maintaining healthy wetlands which have coastal defense functions and also support a wide range of biodiversity making it an environment friendly system of growing organic crops.


We can reduce the need for water by keeping the ground covered with vegetation throughout the year. Stacked planting according to height further ensures the plants support themselves. Mulching is excellent when the ground is not covered with vegetation as it allows the soil to retain moisture.

It is best not to water from the top using sprinklers, because water usage is high but water utilisation is low.

Never water during the day, only after sunset. Most water will evaporate straight away during the day and plants are unable to utilise enough. temperatures are lower at night, humidity is higher, and these are ideal conditions for the plants to absorb and use the water with maximum effect.

Water close to the ground in traditional trenches, with drip hoses or by hand watering close to the stem of the plant. The drip hose can run above ground or be dug in. Only use it in the evenings to save water.

This entry was posted in 2013, free energy, local action, new economy, permaculture principles, unity consciousness, Uranus square Pluto, visions of the future, waking up, wild new ideas, zone zero zero. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How permaculture sees and works with water

  1. Ellen Fiers says:

    What a great job we have to restore the natural landscape!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *