imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Rainwater Harvesting: Brad Lancaster shares DIY water wisdom

by Jennifer Murphy Sunday, Jun. 11, 2006 at 5:14 PM
truffula_tuft@hotmail.com

Brad Lancaster, a permaculture designer and educator based in Tucson AZ, toured California in April with his new, self-published book Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands. I was able to see his presentation at Eco Village on April 26th, hosted by the Los Angeles Permaculture Guild.

Rainwater Harvesting...
la_river.jpg, image/jpeg, 480x320

Tucson has many similarities to Los Angeles in its landscape and history of water management. Brad opened the slideshow with a picture from 1900 of the meandering Santa Cruz River flowing through Tucson. It was lined with Cottonwood trees and lush riparian shrubs and looked like photos of the Los Angeles River a hundred years ago. The Santa Cruz flowed year-round at that time, and the water table was only 20’ below the surface.

Fast forward 100 years and we see another slide of the same landscape. The river has been straightened and channelized, meaning it was turned into a concrete canal. Over 25% of the city’s surface area is now paved. The river is dry for much of the year and the water table has sunk to 300 feet below the surface - 15 times lower than it had been!

Tucson and many communities throughout the southwest are now consuming what is called “fossil water”, the deep groundwater that has remained in aquifers for thousands of years until now. Extraction of fossil water is sometimes referred to as mining because it is a non-renewable resource.

The dramatic changes in Tucson’s water resources were caused by over-consumption, combined with loss of rainwater recharge. The amount of rainfall had not changed over this period, but the ability of the earth to soak it up had been dramatically limited.

A meandering river takes a long time to get from point A to point B. As it flows, it soaks into the marshy banks, feeding the trees and plants and recharging the underground aquifers. A channelized river moves fast and does not soak in. All the Cottonwood trees and most of the shrubs from the previous slide were gone because they needed that slow moving water. Buildings and pavement also limit how much water can soak in.

As the water table sinks, it picks up salts from the soil and the water quality diminishes. During heavy rains more contaminants pollute the river. The water, having nowhere else to go, sweeps through the city streets, carrying oil, trash and toxic residues with it. Strangely, rainwater in this desert town is now considered a problem rather than a solution.

Tucson gets an annual rainfall of 12 inches (Los Angeles gets 15). If you divide the surface area by the population, and then again by 365 days, you get 235 gallons per person per day. That’s a lot of fresh, free water. The average person’s use is 165 gallons a day. So in theory, what falls on the city could provide for it’s all water needs. You wouldn’t want to use all the rainwater this way, but it proves a point. With conservation measures and wise management, dry lands like Tucson could develop water self-sufficiency. But instead they import most of what they use (as we do) from the Colorado River, the most endangered river in America, at a cost of million annually.

One third of that 165 gallon average daily use goes on landscapes. In LA it’s closer to one half. This is crazy. We bring in water from 700 miles away, pay to process it to a high level of purity and then take half of it and pour it on our lawns. We dump a bunch more down our toilets.

Brad has a simple formula to change these bad habits. We need to make rainwater the primary irrigator for landscapes, with grey water (recycled from washing machines and sinks) being the secondary provider. Municipal water should only be used for drinking and washing. His book outlines exactly how to do this.

Brad spent time in Africa studying water management. He told some great stories about a man called the Water Farmer. Inspired by the Garden of Eden and educated by long and thoughtful observation, Mr. Phiri Maseko and his family turned a wasteland into an oasis, in the driest region of Zimbabwe. They did this by teaching themselves how to harvest the rain.

Brad explained the eight basic principles of water harvesting using Mr. Phiri’s story:

1) Long and thoughtful observation.

Notice what is working and what isn’t. Mr. Phiri saw that the valleys of his land were grassy and the rolling hilltops were bare and eroded. He paid attention to what kinds of plants grew where.

2) Start at the top and move down.

The largest and least expensive water storage tank is the soil. Earthworks are tools for holding onto water and recharging the water table. Mr. Phiri built rock walls to catch brush and soil runoff in the heavy summer rains. This created mulch sponges which held onto the water much longer than bare hillsides.

3) Start with small and simple strategies and have fun

Don’t give in to the “my cistern is bigger than your cistern” style of water management, at least not until you’ve thoroughly explored this list. Planting a tree is a simple and powerful step.

4) Slow, spread and sink the rainwater (infiltration).

American gardeners have an illogical habit of raising up plants on mounds and paving the low spots in our yards. Maybe we’re trying to make them look bigger (we are so impatient). The mounds then shed the rainwater and the plants struggle or dry up. The rainwater spills into the streets and down the storm drains. We can keep the water on the land longer by planting in the soil basins and raising the pathways instead. Planting perennials rather than annuals in the basins also helps, because they have stronger root systems. Mr. Phiri created swales and banks to slow down the water at every opportunity. He dug a huge basin at the foot of the hill to collect the water, allowing it the time needed to sink in.

5) Always have an overflow

Brad said that 90% of the rain in Southern California can be easily managed, so only 10% of it needs to go into the storm drains. But we do need the storm drains for those hundred year floods.

6) Maximize living and organic material

As Mr. Phiri told Brad, plant water not just plants. Mulches and green cover keep the soil cool and slow evaporation. The roots hold onto moisture. Lay it on thick!

An example of a water wise landscape design that Brad helped create in Tucson, is Milagro Cohousing. They integrated rainwater cachement (10 times as much as a typical city system) and 100% wastewater recycling (wetlands, underground irrigation system, native and edible plants). Construction costs were partially offset by not having to install sewage pumps.

7) Maximize and enhance the function of all strategies, stack functions.

For example - consider the placement of plants and earthworks as they relate to heat and sun angles. A deciduous fruit tree on the Westside of a building would be a good bet, providing shade and fruit in the summer, sun access in the winter.

8) Long and thoughtful observation, again.

Create a feedback loop. Ask what worked and what didn’t. Build on the successes.

With that, Brad wrapped up his presentation to rousing applause. He sold a lot of his new books to the crowd, as well as some of Art Ludwig’s grey water books (see resources). Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands is volume 1 of a trilogy that will help readers reduce the cost of living, teach self-reliance and cooperation, and create “living air conditioners of vegetation growing beauty, food, and wildlife habitat”. It is full of stories of people who are successfully welcoming rainwater into their landscapes and invites us to do the same.

Resources:

www.harvestingrainwater.com/ Brad Lancaster’s website, you can order his book here

www.harvesth2o.com/ online rainwater harvesting community

www.oasisdesign.net/ Art Ludwig’s site about grey water

www.permacultureactivist.net/ information on permaculture design, edible landscaping, bioregionalism, cooperative action, aquaculture, natural building, earthworks, renewable energy…

http://lapcguild.tribe.net/ and www.arashi.com/mailman/listinfo.cgi/lapg Los Angeles Permaculture Guild

Image from http://you-are-here.com

Los Angeles River at Griffith Park, winter 2003

Report this post as:

LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 3 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Harvesting Rainwater Ecological Sanity Tuesday, Sep. 11, 2007 at 10:43 AM
Another picture... Ecological Sanity Friday, Sep. 14, 2007 at 7:26 PM

Local News

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A12 5:39PM

lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

What does the Quran Say About Islamic Dress?? A21 4:15PM

Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée A20 11:22AM

The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion A20 7:14AM

Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service A19 5:52PM

The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally! A19 4:01PM

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety A08 10:29PM

Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man A08 9:50PM

Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes A08 9:48PM

Paraphysique de l'autorité A08 12:11AM

Two Podcasts on fbi corruption A06 10:13PM

Fbi assassins assault & try to kill DAVID ATKINS A06 7:29PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy