Permaculture and Water Harvesting teaches us that we should capture water at our highest elevations and then slow the flow of the water to the lowest elevation, making the most use of this precious resource before it leaves a property or system.
One method to this attempt is to dam the water. In doing so the water is allowed to permeate the soil, providing a great place to plant perennial foods.
Our property has approximately a 40 foot change in elevation. This is a guesstimate from USGS Topological survey of our area from 2012.
Further, our property is relatively high compared to the surrounding area, so there is not much watershed feeding our property. This can make it difficult to find places to place water catchment, such as dams.
We get a good helping of water every year – about 55 to 60 inches. According to the National Weather Service, our 30 year average is 56.09 inches.
That said, what falls onto your property (rain) and what flows onto it (runoff) are two entirely different things.
While we do get a lot of rain, we do also have dry spells, and the running water flowing through our property does dry up. Hopefully with some careful planning and decisive action we can capture enough water on the property throughout the year to never be without water – without having to rely on municipal water.
Our major inflow of rainfall water sources are the spillway from a pond 2 properties North of us and the roadway. The roadway provides more water than the pond.
We also have a few acres of higher elevation from an adjacent property that shed water on to our property. However, a few acres of watershed through a forest is not very much.
Our best option for water catchment from these sources are the major inflows. They have water in them over 1/2 of the year.
Other Water Catchment Options
Our home is quite large and provides us with a significant hard surface area from which to harvest rainwater. However, work must be done on the roof line and gutter system before water could be effectively harvested.
Water harvest from the roof would be stored in rain barrels, but overflow could easily be diverted into one of the major inlets to help supplement it.
One problem with damming water on our property is that all of the good locations are on the lower elevations of our property, meaning water would have to be pumped up to higher elevations.
There are a few locations where we could create small ponds, but these would be very difficult. Firstly, they are small and my not hold water without a liner. Further, they are in the middle of the woods and are not easy to access for construction.
Our best option may be to place swales going down the elevation change to help slow water, but avoid trying to capture it. Again, however, the problem is the construction of the swales without first removing all of the trees in the way.
Give us some Dam help
What would you do? Watch our Dam Water Dam Elevation video to get a perspective of what we are facing and see if there is something you could recommend! Just leave us a comment below!
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