When Water Flows Uphill

June brought an historic flood to our city. December was the driest on record.

Climate scientists have warned us to prepare for these types of extremes. They have certainly arrived around the world, and according to predictions will only increase in frequency and severity. No matter what happens post-Paris in terms of carbon emissions, the planet is already locked into decades of volatile weather.

What is your community doing about it? What are you doing about it?

On our farm we have designed to address both drought and flood simultaneously. Here is one small example of how I am directing water to flow ‘uphill’ and over a swale to where it will be most useful to the black boy peach trees and blueberry bushes planted along the swale. The higher and longer we can hold water on the property the better. But at the same time we direct water away from buildings made of wood and steel.

This little water diversion project starts on the huge roof of our multi-shed complex. I’ve changed the spouting and run it into a section of Novaflo. In winter the same piece of Novaflo carries the water away from and to the side of the buildings. But for the dry summer I have decided to run the water uphill.

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The weight of the water is so great that I’ve had to build a ‘splint’ to support the flexible pipe from the fence to the barrel.

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Can never have too much baling twine!

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As the barrel fills, the pressure forces water through the hose fitted to the bottom of the side. The hose will eventually be covered by stone as it crosses the road.

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Then it climbs over the swale to the small pond dug behind it.

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I checked it this morning after a small 5 mm shower last night. The bottom of the pond was very damp and the end of the hose was full of water.

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Here is a reverse angle showing the water’s pathway up and over the swale. In winter the swale keeps water flowing down the hillside away from the buildings. But by the end of this dry December the ponds were dry and the small fruit trees were drying out. I was spending a lot of time watering them with a hose and decided that this project was to jump to the head of the line.

This hugelkultur swale was built one year ago and is already thriving compared with the worn out paddock around it.

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My belief is that it’s fine and good and important to talk about cutting emissions and embracing non-carbon based energy sources. But it is equally important to prepare ourselves and our communities for the extremes of both wet and dry. Good design moderates them both for the better. To me it’s all about designing and building resilient systems. This is just one small example on one small farm in the corner of the world. It was made in a morning by materials laying around the place at no cost.

What do you think you can achieve at your place?

 

Peace, Estwing

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