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A bit about our water infrastructure

Since we started developing the garden we have had to make a number of adjustments to the original design, especially when it comes to water. In the first couple of years water was always available, even during the driest summer months, now water is getting harder to get, due to the last rainy season being somewhat insufficient, but more importantly, I suspect, due to the incremental results of forest clearing for feed corn contract farming, that cause rainwater to run off more quickly and penetrate the soils less during the rainy season.

Another thing to consider is that we do not use water in the same way as our neighbours, we use much less water but more often and as a result the village system for sharing water in the summer does not really suit us.

In addition to using ponds for storing water and raising (some) fish, we have developed three different strategies for watering to avoid using pumps as much as possible.

The first system is a sort of targeted flooding, where water is directed to different areas as it comes into the site using 2″ pvc pipes, which when in use are inserted into slots as shown in the first picture. This works well when we have advance warning that the water will arrive, can be used with even a small amount of water and can cover a large area in a short time if there is enough water available. The main drawback is that it is unsuitable if water arrives at night, it is also somewhat unsightly, as there are water pipes strewn across the garden for ease of use when the time comes.

 

We also store water in tanks as close to the top of the site as possible and in a pond close to the house  both of these are fed by the same village irrigation canal. The tanks are somewhat hidden in the corners of the site and the water can be used by turning on various gravity fed taps, while the pond water is used for the vegetable patch using a submersible pump.

The latest addition to the system is a new 11k lt. tank, built on the highest point of the whole property which is filled by a diesel powered pump that sits at the bottom of the site, very close to the river, there we dug a large pond that fills naturally to the level of the water table, currently holding about 1000 cubic metres. The tank is connected to around fifty taps throughout the site and can also function as emergency water supply to all the dwellings on the site.

This allows us to be independent of the village system in case there is not enough water for everyone, we are very aware that the people around us need the water for their livelihoods and that we should not pretend we are the same as them just because we live near them. At the same time we do not really use a lot of water and as the food forest develops it will become less and less dependent of watering.

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