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Rainwater Harvesting, Water Catchment, and Swale Building Open Source Hub and Portal

Rainwater harvesting methods and water catchment methods are another component of One Community’s open source project-launch blueprinting strategy for building a global collaboration of self-sufficient and self-sustainable teacher/demonstration communities, villages, and cities for the Highest Good of All. Rainwater catchment and harvesting will be incorporated into all seven different village models, the Duplicable City Center Hub, our sustainable food systems, and even our sustainable energy infrastructure. This page will function as the portal and hub for all of our water research, development, and ongoing open source project-launch blueprinting of duplicable rainwater harvesting methods, water catchment techniques, and swale building strategies.

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KEY CONSULTANTS TO THIS COMPONENT

Matheus Manfredini (Civil Engineering Student specializing in Urban Design)

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WATER HARVESTING OPEN SOURCE PORTAL

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As we continue open source project-launch blueprinting our water harvesting and catchment systems, build them, and problem solve and evolve them for One Community (and with others around the world) we will develop this page as the portal detailing open source and free-shared specifics related to this component including:

  • Complete building plans for duplication
  • How to build each system and what to watch out for
  • Detailed materials and providers list for all water catchment components
  • Detailed equipment and tools needs list for all water catchment and storage systems
  • Cost analysis and build-time analysis for the water catchment system of each component
  • Ongoing maintenance and upkeep details per our ongoing experience with each system
  • How to make your build easier than ours and how to solve any problems we encountered in our build
  • Archive and database of others building similar systems including their experiences, adaptations, etc.
  • List of everyone who helped us design and build this so they can be contacted to help others change it

Water catchment will be a part of every structure we build and the list above will evolve into links with the related details on each individual structure page so we can organize, evolve, and share the details that people need to duplicate every aspect of this component of One Community in part or in whole.

 

WATER HARVESTING AND CONSERVATION

One Community is confident that we can create an environment where we are capable of harvesting and storing more water than we use through a combination of water conservation and catchment methods. This page shares the following details:

 

WATER CONSERVATION CALCULATIONS AND PRACTICES

As part of our commitment to Stewardship and Highest Good Living, the Pioneer Team will work to demonstrate maximum water efficiency and conservation. Below are some examples of what current average (A) versus conservative (C) water use looks like through conscientious practices applied to everything from taking a shower to reusing a drinking glass:

  • Shower: A = 45 gallons (10 mins) / C = 5 gallons (wetting, stopping water to soap, rinsing)
  • Brushing teeth: A = 2-4 gallons (water running for 2 minutes) / C = .25 gallons (brushing with water off)
  • Shaving: A: 10-15 gallons (water running) / C = 1.5 gallons (with water off)
  • Toilet: A = 12 gallons (3 per flush) / C = N/A (vermiculture toilets won’t use water)
  • Washing dishes: A: 1 gallon per person per day with a dishwasher / C: .5 gallons 
  • Washing clothes: A: 3 gallons per person per day with a washing machine / C: 2 gallons
  • Cooking and other in-house uses: A: 7 gallons per person per day / C: 3.5 gallons

Looking at these numbers the average American uses around 100 gallons of water a day versus a more conservative approach only using 13 or 14 gallons! With a desire to demonstrate what is possible we are seeking maximally efficient appliances and designing warm and comfortable shower spaces to make practices like starting and stopping a shower to soap easy to do. We are also planning a separate “non-washing” hot waterfall experience (like a hot tub shower) for the ultimate experience of just standing in a huge volume of hot water and letting it run as long as a person likes without wasting any water.

INITIAL CATCHMENT TO SUPPLY NEEDS

Combining the calculations above we calculate a liberal 20 gallons of use per person X 365 days in the year = 7,300 gallons of water used per person each year. 275,098 gallons (see below) harvested off the earthbag village/7,300 gallons per person equals enough water for 37 people. Adding the water catchment from the Duplicable City Center City Hub (99,240 gallons), our sustainable food systems (136,555 gallons), and our solar panel array catchment (46,058 gallons) would provide enough water for an additional 40 people for a total of 77.

We are exploring additional water conservation approaches in an attempt to achieve 100% water self-sufficiency for all residents plus the additional 30% population of less conservation-minded visitors we will be hosting. All water not produced this way will be provided from on-site wells.

 

EARTHBAG VILLAGE WATER CATCHMENT

EVI earthbag water catchment, water conservation methods, advantages of rainwater harvesting, rainwater harvesting techniques, open source water systems, methods of rainwater harvesting, smart water, intelligent water use, swails, One Community, solution based thinking, conserve water, water conservation, water wise, saving water, best land for water, mulch, water catchment, water collection, swails, water collecting, vermiculture, conserving water, Earthbag Village Icon (EVI), Earthbag Village Construction, earthbag building, earthbag architecture, earth construction, community construction, community living, Pod 1, One Community, earth bag home, earthbag house, building with earthbags, building with earth, earthbag community, earth architecture, green living, earthbag community, earthbag eco-tourism, earth building, earth construction, One Community Pod 1The earthbag village (Pod 1) is the first village model we will be building and the water catchment for the entire village has been calculated using the following color coordinated zones: yellow for domes, pink for patios, blue for roads & walkways, and orange for the Tropical Atrium.

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Earthbag Village Water Collection Zones: Click to Visit the Earthbag Village Open Source Hub

WATER CATCHMENT OFF THE DOME HOMES (YELLOW)

Water catchment off just the domes (yellow) has been calculated using these numbers:

  • 75 domes
  • External Diameter = 18 feet

The rainwater catchment area for each dome therefor equals 254 square feet x 75 domes = 19,050 sq. ft. Using a (conservative for our location) 10-inch annual rainfall* and applying the formula for calculating water harvesting (catchment area x rainfall x runoff) yields: (72,099) X (.833) X (7.48) = 118,698 gallons of water harvested per year from the domes.

WATER CATCHMENT OFF OF PATIOS (PINK)

Water catchment off the patio and stair areas (pink) of the dome clusters and has been calculated as follows:

  • 23 patio areas
  • Average size of patio and stair areas = 220 sq. ft.

The surface area of all the patios (pink) therefore equals 23 x 220 sq. feet = 5,060 sq. ft. Using a (conservative for our location) 10-inch annual rainfall* and applying the formula for calculating water harvesting (catchment area x rainfall x runoff) yields: (5,060) X (.833) X (7.48) = 31,528 gallons of water harvested per year from the patios and stairways.

WATER CATCHMENT OFF OF ROADS AND WALKWAYS (BLUE)

Water catchment off the primary roadway and walkways (blue) and has been calculated as follows:

  • Area of the main roadway: 3,421 sq. ft.
  • Area of the South entry roadway: 1,536 sq. ft.
  • Area of the South Tropical Atrium entryway and surrounding area: 1,865 sq. ft.
  • Area of the North Tropical Atrium entryway: 384 sq. ft.

The total surface area of all the roadways and walkways (blue) 7,206 sq. feet. Using a (conservative for our location) 10-inch annual rainfall* and applying the formula for calculating water harvesting (catchment area x rainfall x runoff) yields: (7,206) X (.833) X (7.48) = 44,738 gallons of water harvested per year from the patios and stairways.

WATER CATCHMENT OFF THE TROPICAL ATRIUM (ORANGE)

Water catchment off the Tropical Atrium and surrounding walkway has been calculated as follows:

  • Roof: 11,304 sq. ft.
  • Surrounding walkway: 1,557

The total surface area of the Tropical Atrium (orange) is therefore 12,861 sq. feet. Using a (conservative for our location) 10-inch annual rainfall* and applying the formula for calculating water harvesting (catchment area x rainfall x runoff) yields: (12,861) X (.833) X (7.48) = 80,134 gallons of water harvested per year from the patios and stairways.

CONSERVATIVE WATER CATCHMENT FOR THE EARTHBAG VILLAGE:
275,098 GALLONS OF WATER

*Note: For calculating cistern and pond sizes we used the average annual rainfall for our location of 13.6 ~ 15 in = average of 368.3 mm. For calculating pipe size we used the Daily Critical Rainfall (the maximum daily amount of rainfall in our location) of 1.3″ / 33 mm.

 

EARTHBAG VILLAGE WATER COLLECTION
DESIGN DETAILS

Here are the details of the water collection and transport system:

PIPE DIAMETER CALCULATIONS BY THE SIZE OF THE CATCHMENT AREA

To determine the pipe sizes we needed:

  1. The slope
  2. The discharge rate
  3. The roughness coefficient of the material of the pipe
SLOPE

rainwater-chart-640To minimize the costs with excavations and soil removal, the slope of piping needs to be as minimal as possible without creating a potential water backup. The table at right shows the international standard for the minimum slope for each size of the pipe.

For most of the plumbing area we are using 2.5″ pipes, which ensure us with a 1/4″ slope. The radius of our village is ~170 feet minus 9 feet because our drainage won’t start right in the middle of the village. This gives us a drop of 41 inches for the international standard slope equal to 1/4″/foot associated with a 2.5″ pipe.

DISCHARGE RATE

To calculate the discharge rate on each drain we need to know the catchment area (a) for each drain, the daily critical rainfall (b) and the coefficient of absorption of the soil (c).

  1. Catchment Area: The total area of half of the village is 45k square feet, dividing by 14 drains in total, we would have ~3,200 square feet for each drain
  2. Daily Critical Rainfall: The maximum daily amount of rainfall in our location was 33 mm
  3. Coefficient of Absorption of the Soil: The Soil tends to be impermeable so 0.95 to 1 is a good coefficient

Catchment area x Rainfall x Coef x 7.48 Gal/cubic foot= 2,300 Gallons in a critical day for each drain

Taking a critical storm that could last 1.5 hours, the maximum hourly amount can be rated as 1,500 gallons for each hour.

Looking at drains 9 and 10 (see below) as the 2 drains that receive the most amount of water, the estimated combined catchment area is ~2,500 square feet. This is lower than the safe drainage amount estimated for any one drain. This means we have an adequate safety factor.

COEFFICIENT OF THE MATERIAL

Taking PVC as the material of the pipe, the roughness coefficient is 150.

CALCULATING THE DIAMETER OF THE PIPES

The calculations of the diameter of the pipes were done with the Hazen-Williams Formula, which includes the discharge rate, coefficient of the material and slope. This excel export included the calculations and shows all the diameters and flow inside the pipes.

pipe sized chart

The AutoCAD drawing for the rainwater has the slope, the distances between each drains. The colors represent the different sizes of the pipes:

  • Blue: 2.5”
  • Yellow: 3”
  • White: 3.5”

The letters and numbers represent drains (1-15) and connections (A-M).

unnamed-2

For cost and labor efficiency, the slope is the minimum determined to be effective. This reduces the needed excavation and the pond can be just ~2.3-2.5 feet under the ground level. For this reason in the AutoCAD drawing the slope is a little bit difficult to be seen. Also the sizes of the drawing are made in decimeters, on a scale of 1/10. For example: M to E in the drawing has ~500 mm, in the reality it has ~50 meters or ~161 feet.

unnamed

CALCULATING POND SIZE

The minimum pond size for the large pond shown below is 16′ diameter and 9 feet deep. The small pond shown is for emergency overflow.

unnamed-1

Here is how we arrived at the large-pond size:

English Method
V = 0.05 x P x A
P = Precipitation
A = Catchment area

Area of one half of the village (A) = 2,787 ft²
P = 13.6 ~ 15 in = average of 368.3 mm
Volume of water (Vw) = 0.05 x 368.3 x 2,787 = 51,322.605 L
1 ft3= 28.31 L so 51,322.605 L divided by 28.31 L = a volume (Vp) of 1,812.9 ft3

We want a 9′ deep pond so Vp = 9 feet x Pond Area (Ap)
1,812.9 ft3 = 9 ft x Ap
1,812.2 ft3/9 ft = Ap
Ap = 201.36 ft²
πr² = A
r = 8 feet

unnamed-3

MORE DETAILS COMING INCLUDING:
  • Which connectors and how many
  • A drawing inside Sketch-up
  • A better drawing for better visualization above

AQUAPINI & WALIPINI WATER CATCHMENT

aquapini, walipini, water collection, water catchment, water conservation methods, advantages of rainwater harvesting, rainwater harvesting techniques, open source water systems, methods of rainwater harvesting, smart water, intelligent water use, swails, One Community, solution based thinking, conserve water, water conservation, water wise, saving water, best land for water, mulch, water catchment, water collection, swails, water collecting, vermiculture, conserving waterWater collection (with storage in the central pond) is planned for the Aquapinis, Walipinis, and surrounding roadways. Water catchment for this area has been calculated using the following color coordinated zones: Pink for small structures, Orange for the large structures, and Blue for Roads & Walkways,.

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Food Infrastructure Water Collection Zones: Click to Visit the Aquapini and Walipini Open Source Hub

WATER CATCHMENT OFF THE SMALL STRUCTURES (PINK)

The water collection area of each small structure (pink) equals 2079 square feet x 4 structures = 8,316 sq. ft. Using a (conservative for our location) 10-inch annual rainfall* and applying the formula for calculating water harvesting (catchment area x rainfall x runoff) yields: (8,316) X (.833) X (7.48) = 51,885 gallons of water harvested per year from these structures.

WATER CATCHMENT OFF THE LARGE STRUCTURES (ORANGE)

The water collection area of each large structure (orange) equals 3,399 square feet x 2 structures = 6,798 sq. ft. Using a (conservative for our location) 10-inch annual rainfall* and applying the formula for calculating water harvesting (catchment area x rainfall x runoff) yields: (6,798) X (.833) X (7.48) = 42,357 gallons of water harvested per year from these structures.

WATER CATCHMENT OFF THE ROADWAYS AND WALKWAYS (BLUE)
  • Central circle = 5,541 sq. ft.
  • Walkways = 1,250 sq. ft.

The water collection area of the walkways and central area equals 6,791 sq. ft. Using a (conservative for our location) 10-inch annual rainfall* and applying the formula for calculating water harvesting (catchment area x rainfall x runoff) yields: (6,791) X (.833) X (7.48) = 42,313 gallons of water harvested per year from this area.

TOTAL WATER CATCHMENT FOR OUR INITIAL FOOD INFRASTRUCTURE:
136,555 GALLONS OF WATER

*Note: For calculating cistern and pond sizes we used the average annual rainfall for our location of 13.6 ~ 15 in = average of 368.3 mm. For calculating pipe size we used the Daily Critical Rainfall (the maximum daily amount of rainfall in our location) of 1.3″ / 33 mm.

 

DUPLICABLE CITY CENTER WATER COLLECTION

Duplicable City Center Water Catchment Icon, water conservation methods, advantages of rainwater harvesting, rainwater harvesting techniques, open source water systems, methods of rainwater harvesting, smart water, intelligent water use, swails, One Community, solution based thinking, conserve water, water conservation, water wise, saving water, best land for water, mulch, water catchment, water collection, swails, water collecting, vermiculture, conserving waterWater will also be collected off the entire Duplicable City Center Hub. Water catchment for this area has been calculated using the following color coordinated zones: Pink for the domes and Blue for the central area. There is a 4th floor cupola that will cover the central area but water will still be collected from this cupola so we have used the zones you see below for simplicity.

Duplicable City Center Water Catchment

Duplicable City Center Water Catchment Zones – Click for the Details Page

The Duplicable City Center footprint for each of the domes (area of the circle) was calculated for rainwater catchment. The area of a 74′ diameter circle equals 4,300 feet x 3 domes = 12,900 sq ft. Using a (conservative for our location) 10-inch annual rainfall* and applying the formula for calculating water harvesting (catchment area x rainfall x runoff) yields: (12,900) X (.833) X (7.48) = 80,485 gallons of water harvested per year from the domes.

Note: For those interested, the actual surface area of each of the Duplicable City Center’s 74′ diameter/35′ high domes (pink) can be quickly calculated using this tool as equalling 8,149 feet.

WATER CATCHMENT FROM THE CUPOLA AND CENTRAL AREA (BLUE)

The area of the central water collection zone (blue) for the Duplicable City Center includes the area shown on the map above (topped with the cupola that will cover much of this area) equaling roughly 3,010 sq ft. of rain collecting space. Using a (conservative for our location) 10-inch annual rainfall* and applying the formula for calculating water harvesting (catchment area x rainfall x runoff) yields: (3,010) X (.833) X (7.48) = 18,754 gallons of water harvested per year from the Duplicable City Center Hub.

TOTAL WATER CATCHMENT FOR THE DUPLICABLE CITY CENTER
99,240 GALLONS OF WATER

*Note: For calculating cistern and pond sizes we used the average annual rainfall for our location of 13.6 ~ 15 in = average of 368.3 mm. For calculating pipe size we used the Daily Critical Rainfall (the maximum daily amount of rainfall in our location) of 1.3″ / 33 mm.

 

SOLAR ARRAY WATER COLLECTION

Water will also be collected off of and under our energy infrastructure of solar panels that will cover a total of 7,392 square feet. Using a (conservative for our location) 10-inch annual rainfall* and applying the formula for calculating water harvesting (catchment area x rainfall x runoff) yields: (7,392) X (.833) X (7.48) = 46,058 gallons of water harvested per year from the Duplicable City Center Hub.

TOTAL WATER CATCHMENT FOR THE SOLAR ARRAY:
46,058 GALLONS OF WATER

*Note: For calculating cistern and pond sizes we used the average annual rainfall for our location of 13.6 ~ 15 in = average of 368.3 mm. For calculating pipe size we used the Daily Critical Rainfall (the maximum daily amount of rainfall in our location) of 1.3″ / 33 mm.

 

SWALE CREATION AND BENEFITS

Swale creation is part of the One Community water conservation plan, stewardship strategy, and food forest design. In addition to water collection off all the structures of One Community, we will also open source project-launch blueprint the effectiveness and value of swale creation for land restoration, food forest establishment and support, and greywater processing.

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Tamera Eco-Settlement Water Conservation Results: This Took Less Than 4 years

WHAT IS A SWALE

A swale is a ditch and berm system designed to halt overland water flow and maximize water infiltration. The design calls for an excavated ditch along the contour lines of a property such that the ditch is always following the level contour of the land. The soil excavated from the ditch is moved to the downslope side to form a berm. It is important to make sure that the top of the berm is level, in order to prevent accumulated water in the swale from finding a low spot and washing out the berm. The entire area is raked smooth, mulched, and densely planted with a broad mix of annual and perennial species. In dry climates it may be necessary to irrigate the plantings until the first rain event, or until the plantings take hold.

WHAT DOES A SWALE DO

A properly designed and constructed swale accomplishes a number of important functions. First and foremost is the retention in the landscape of the maximum amount of precipitation or inflow. As the infiltrated water moves down and out through the soil profile, it enables the growth of trees and other plants upslope and downslope of the swales that would not otherwise survive on the site. The tree cover in turn shades and mulches the swale, maintaining and enhancing the infiltration; as the trees grow, their roots help guide moisture ever deeper into the soil profile. This synergistic feedback loop makes possible the reforestation or afforestation of even the driest regions. The system is expanded with additional swales upslope and downslope across the landscape.

It is important to understand that a swale is NOT meant to direct or divert the flow of water across the slope. Rather, the design and intention of a swale is to HALT the flow of water, so that it collects in the swale and has the chance to sink into the soil. In areas that receive sufficient rainfall, swales can be connected to a series of deeper ponds or impoundments to hold larger amounts of water. These can be constructed to increase the area of infiltration, or designed as permanent ponds.

Understanding the soil structure where a swale is under consideration is important to achieve the aim of maximum infiltration. On most soils, the mulch layer starts the generation of the soils microbiota, which improves the crumb structure and drainage of the soil. In the case of clay, treatment with gypsum (calcium sulfate) followed by mulch, will help the clay flocculate and achieve percolation. In extremely rocky or shale situations, mechanically ripping the bottom of the swale with a dozer shank may be necessary.

As a swale establishes its associated habitat, an accelerated turnover in species composition is seen. The initial annuals and short-lived perennials are soon shaded out by taller, longer-lived trees and shrubs, which in turn are succeeded by slower growing climax forest species. At each stage of this evolution, niches are created for new species, and “edge” increases at the peripheries. Properly managed, each of these niches is an opportunity for developing an ever-widening array of yields.

As the systems of multiple swales extend towards each other, the management of the interswale zone can be maintained as e.g. open meadow, agricultural field, home or village site, etc. Allowing these sites to be surrounded with swale-derived agroforest increases their soil moisture, reduces wind and evapo-transpiration, provides convenient access to wild foods, medicinal plants, and other forest yields. This approach brings Zones 3 and 4 closer to Zones 1 and 2.

A VIDEO ABOUT WHAT IS POSSIBLE AND THE ABOVE PICTURE

WATER RETENTION BENEFITS
  • Erosion control
  • More availability of water for agricultural use & drinking
  • Slows the flow of water downstream which reduces flood risk
  • Healthy soil and fresh water are the foundations of any land based ecosystem
WATER RETENTION TECHNIQUES
  • Swales
  • Keyline design
  • Lakes & ponds
  • Roof harvesting
SWALES SIMPLIFIED

Forming swales looks like this:

A swale on contour catches large volumes of water and allows it to soak into the land like this:

Water caught by a swale absorbs into the land like this:

KEYLINE DESIGN SIMPLIFIED

Ripping plow lines on contour, pushes rushing water from the valleys out to the ridges like this:

PONDS AND LAKES SIMPLIFIED

Excess water from swales is directed to ponds and lakes like this:

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A SPECIAL NOTE ABOUT BAMBOO

Bamboos are an especially useful set of plants for swales. Monopodial (“clumping”) bamboos have very dense root systems, and excel as silt traps. The sympodial or so-called “running” bamboos spread out and form groves of canes that can quickly shade and mulch large areas. Their root systems will seek moisture, and they can spread along a swale for hundreds of feet, mulching and protecting the newly installed swale as they go. Near dwellings or settlements, all greywater can be directed to bamboo groves, which will greedily filter out nitrates and nitrites. There are different species of bamboo that will grow from the equator to the arctic latitudes, and given the wide variety of yields – edible shoots, medicine, craft and construction wood, mulch, fuel, livestock browse, etc. – their judicious selection and placement should be part of any site development.