Rainwater harvesting, which is the process of collecting and storing water from catchment areas such as roofs, rock surfaces and hilly areas, can be done in several ways. The method of choice for this process is determined by several factors including frequency and quantity of rain, end users, funds and resources available and the characteristics of the catchment medium.
Climate change, increasing demand for water and rising costs of water supply are making rainwater harvesting increasingly important, and it therefore behooves anyone interested in finding a consistent and sustainable source of water to consider using this simple and affordable process to solve their water supply problems. The following are the most common methods used to harvest rainwater, from systems that utilize the most basic techniques and equipment, to those that require considerable capital outlay and expert advice.
Groundwater recharge occurs when rain and surface runoff enter the soil and are stored by soil and other man made media for future use. It is becoming increasingly important due to falling levels of water supply from boreholes and wells in urban areas which utilize groundwater sources without any way of replenishing this dwindling supply. Groundwater recharge replaces lost sources of water with rainwater runoff to reverse the effects of overexploitation.
There are several methods to recharge underground water sources including:
- Sand dams
- Re-used plastic barrels
- Direct recharge of wells and boreholes
Roof water harvesting
Roof water harvesting involves collecting rainfall from roofs and storing it in jars, tanks or barrels. The amount of water stored is determined by the size and shape of the roof. The roof water collecting system has 3 basic components i.e. collection surface, conveyancing system and storage facility. The collection surface is typically the roof of a building; the conveyancing system refers to the gutters and pipes that deliver the water into the storage vessels which may be tanks, barrels or cisterns.
Surface runoff harvesting
Surface runoff harvesting uses man made systems to collect rainwater runoff from surfaces such as roads, hills, trenches and others and divert it into both natural and manmade storage systems like dams, ponds, underground reservoirs, streams and rivers. All water collected in this way must be treated and conserved properly in order to make it safe for various purposes including human and livestock consumption, irrigation of crops and household purposes such as general cleaning and laundry.
Rainwater harvesting is a simple and affordable way for people to meet their water needs while helping to conserve valuable water resources in the face of increasing global demand. Whatever your needs are, there is a method to suit your budget and living circumstances, and anyone who is looking for a sustainable water supply method would do well to consider rainwater harvesting. Want to learn more about the incredible methods you can use to harvest rainwater? The Open Permaculture School and on Regenerative Leadership Institute page you can find all the courses you need to make a start.
Worm composting enables you to compost your food waste quickly while creating compost soil of high quality and fertilizing liquid. The best part is that it is self-contained and almost odorless. Here is how you can make a worm compost system.
Making a Home for Your Worms
Find a Worm Bin – A worm bin is a home for the worms where they digest the organic material you provide them. You can purchase worm bins from online vendors or your local farm supply store. If you are crafty enough, you can build one. You can learn more on how to build a worm bin at Open Permaculture School and online on Regenerative Leadership Institute.
Place The Worm Bin In A Cool Area– If your worm bin is outside you should put it in some shade to protect it from excess heat.
Build Your Ecosystem
Set up the Bedding For Your Worms – The bedding is the normal habitat of the worm that you want to replicate in the compost bin. Fill up your bin with strips of straw, dry grass or any other similar material. It offers a fiber source to the worms and ensures that the bin is well-ventilated. Sprinkle some dirt on top and moisten well. You then need to allow the water to soak in for roughly a day before you add worms. With time, the bedding turns into compost material rich in nutrients.
Maintaining and Harvesting Your Compost
Feed the Worms – The worms require a steady diet so that they can remain healthy and generate compost. Feed the worms weekly but in small quantities. As they recreate and increase in numbers, feed them approximately a quart of food scraps on each square foot on a weekly basis.
Maintain Your Bin – Keep your bin off the ground with bricks or any other convenient items. Doing this speeds up the composting process and keeps the worms happy. Worms have the ability to escape nearly anything but when you feed them well and keep them damp; they do not attempt to escape. You can also put some light to ensure they remain there. There are many routines to maintain your bin.
Harvest The Compost – After around 3-6 months, your worm compost system ought to be ready. You can wear rubber gloves and shift the huge un-composted veggie matter to the side. Scoop some of the worms and the compost mixture on a bright plastic wrap or a piece of newspaper. Graze off the compost in layers and give the worm a little time to warren into the center of the mold.
Fog has the potential to provide an alternative source of water in the dry regions and can be done with cheap technology. The water that is captured can be used for domestic use and irrigation. The technology works best in areas where there are great fogs, especially in the coastal regions. The technology captures the fog as it moves to the inland. You could also collect water in mountainous regions if there is water in cumulus clouds.
The fog-harvesting system consists of a double or a single layer mesh that is supported by two posts. The mesh is made of such material as nylon, polyethylene or polypropylene. The system should be positioned in a location that is perpendicular to the prevailing wind to collect water as the fog passes. The size of the meshes depends on the topography of the land, the amount of water needed and the budget.
The gravity is vital to the working of the system. The water droplets that collect on the mesh run down to a gutter at the bottom of the net and are channeled via pipes to a storage tank or cistern. A standard fog collector is capable of collecting about 200 liters to about 1000 liters a day. The efficiency of the system can be increased by using narrower collection fibers. The increase in fog droplets and higher wind speeds increase the amount of water collected.
Maintenance of the system
It is important to inspect the mesh nets and cable tensions. This prevents the structural damage of the systems and maintains the water harvesting efficiency. The nets, drains, and pipelines should be cleaned of dust, algae, and debris.
The storage tank should also be well-maintained to prevent contamination and accumulation of fungi and bacteria. If the spare parts are not easily available, the spare parts should be bought in advance reserved for any repair that may be needed in future.
The fog-collected water is devoid of many harmful microorganisms and can be used for both the irrigation and domestic use. The system has very little impact on the environment, and its installation is not labor intensive.
One the other side, the system may not be reliable given then fog in unreliable in some regions. The projected amount of water is sometimes hard to achieve given the uncertainty. Where the system works, it delivers lots of water with very little maintenance cost. It is a good alternative to conventional water supply systems that are sometimes expensive.
Would you like to learn more about water collection and management? Enroll at Open Permaculture School and Regenerative Leadership Institute for exclusive study on water management.