DamsSwalesWater Harvesting

Water in the Mexican landscape

MexicoWater gives life and can also destroy life.

When we allow rain water to flow gently over the landscape taking the most time making the most contact with earth water is most fertile. But, when running uncontrolled it can cause erosion and death. No food can grow on land which is eroded and farming can only flourish on fertile soil. But only eco-systemic farming systems can create soil.

At ITT we believe in eco-systemic production systems which allow interactive diversity to develop and to become stable and fertile. To achieve it, we must create a great number of useful connections between the diverse elements on our land.

Two weeks ago we initiated the development of our training centre in permaculture here in the dry tropics. On our site in the municipality of Ejutla, Oaxaca, Mexico, we get approximately 800 milimeters of rain per year. Before the rain gods open the water gates, we invited the water harvesting an earth works specialist Geoff Lawton from the Permaculture Research Institute in Australia to assist us in the construction of an efficient rain catchment and water administration system. Geoff an expert consultant in water harvesting and management with great earth dam and swale building experience in over 17 countries.

These are the basic principles our experts recommend:

  • Design a system of earth dams and swales taking into account the surrounding vegetation. Since trees hold enormous amounts of water in their root system, we must avoid to take out old trees. If the new dam does not offer long term benefits and does not support a significant amount of tree growth, old trees should not be sacrificed.
  • Design the water system in such a manner that the rain water catchment occurs at the highest level of the landscape. Dams located high up store energy and lower dams store great amounts of life.
  • The main point in the design of an efficient and diversified rain water system is to have the water do as many duties as possible:
    1. procreate life by watering forests and agricultural land
    2. create aquaculture food production systems
    3. generate energy using gravity to power sprinklers water wheels only to mention a few

You can find a map of the site in the Photo Gallery, Mexico Project.

Our rain water catchment system is designed to feed a number of earth dams and swales which will allow us to to produce food for approximately thirty students, the ITT staff and the animals on the land.

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