Link to more information about our tanks:
Quick slideshow of installing a ferrocement rainwater harvesting tank in Poway, CA (San Diego County). We make these tanks in pre-cast, modular sections. This means we can easily roll the sections into your yard for installation and don't need to do any messy concrete work on-site. This tank is 300 gallons.
Link to more information about our tanks:
We know the popular idiom "it's raining cats and dogs," but here at Permasystems we like to say it's raining tanks and cisterns! In San Diego County we have been enjoying a wet winter, a nice change from the past few dry years.
Although we have already hit the average total amount of rainfall for the year we are only about half-way through our wet season of December to March! At our ecological design education and demonstration site in Ramona, CA (San Diego County) we have received about 16 inches so far this year. Our average is about 16 inches a year so we are looking great! Northern California has especially received a lot of rain and snow, snow being the most important for us here in Southern California as we receive about 20% of our water from that.
There are currently a plethora of articles in the media talking about if the drought is over. People want to know if water restrictions going to be lifted? Is the drought over? Drought this, drought that.
Here at Permasystems, we don't think the question of whether we are in a drought or not should be the central issue or talking point. The point is the AVERAGE rainfall we are seeing is going down and the AVERAGE temperatures are going up. We certainly need to plan for "drought" years but we absolutely cannot go back to the amount of water we were using pre-drought, (most recent) once the "drought" is over. We NEED to plan for the new normal.
There are many things we can do to adapt to these new conditions. For one, we need to ramp up rainwater harvesting on a massive scale for homes, business, schools, government builds, streets, parks, etc. Not only are we seeing less rain but more intense rain events in short periods of time that cause serious flooding.
Properly planning for rainwater harvesting not only stores water for us to use later, like in tanks, but, for example, by creating what are called infiltration basins (see photo below) we allow water to slow down and sink into the landscape. This reduces the amount of flooding while also getting more water to plants.
Secondly, we need to use water efficient devices. Toilets, shower heads, dishwashers, clothes washers, etc., all can add up to saving a lot of water with the right products. An often-cited 2011 study of California single-family water consumption estimated that the average California household indoor use accounted for more than 170 gallons per household per day. Not surprisingly, the most in-home water consumption was in toilet flushes. A more shocking finding, however, was the whopping 18 percent lost to leaks inside homes, the study found.
Third, we need to embrace greywater. Greywater is the reuse of water from showers, washing machines, etc. This gently used water would have just gone into the drain, but with greywater you can get another entire use out of the water, like giving it food bearing plants. This system allows you to double the use of the water!
Fourth, utilize plants that are adapted to the environment they are growing in. Slowly San Diego County is learning that a climate-adapted plants (something that is drought-tolerant) can save a significant amount of water. Water thirsty plants and trees are becoming too expensive to care for and due to decreased rainfall can begin to die or increase the plants' susceptibility to disease. When this happens, crews need to come into remove the trees before they become a hazard - all of which could have been avoided if a drought-tolerant plant had been chosen.
Fifth and last, use less. Once we get used to using less water, it's easy. Shorter showers, less toilet flushing, less car washing, no lawns, fixing leaks, etc. - all adds up to a lot!
Soil is the foundation to all life! Not to mention it is where we get our food from!! There is a lot more going on in soil than we even understand today.
Healthy soil can have thousands of species of bacteria within it, many of which have not even been identified. Soil contains many other types of organisms, including, nematodes, microarthropods and fungi. They play critical roles in the soil food web of life and help make food in the soil available to plants so they can grow healthy.
Healthy soil holds far more water than dirt and can provide all the food plants need so you don't have to apply fertilizers or pesticides.
The best way to assess the health of soil is to look at it - under a microscope. Something we have done but have found minimal life in our soil.
In order to provide a baseline for experimentation at our ecological design education and demonstration site we are going to send soil samples to multiple sources for nutrient level analysis. This is the area around our cob cabin where we have the food forest.
We have chosen the following labs based on recommendations and price:
Logan Labs - http://www.loganlabs.com/testing-services.html
UMassAmherst - http://soiltest.umass.edu/services
Texas A&M - http://soiltesting.tamu.edu/webpages/forms.html
Some of the things they will test for include:
Total Exchange Capacity
% Base Saturation Ca, Mg, K, Na
How to collect a sample:
- Use a spade, soil auger or soil sampling tube.
- Clear litter from the surface (do not remove decomposed black material).
- When using a soil auger or sampling tool, make the core or boring 6 inches
deep into the soil (3 to 4 inches deep for permanent sod)
- When using a spade:
- Repeat in 10 to 15 different places. Put in a clean plastic bucket or other non-metallic container, thoroughly mix and remove a pint (or more if additional tests are desired) as a composite sample representing the whole field or area.
- Completely fill soil sample bag or othersuitable pint container. Do not use old vegetable cans, tobacco cans, match boxes, glass containers, etc. to submit samples. If more than one sample bag is used, label bags as 1 of 2, 2 of 2, etc.
Hopefully our results will come in soon! We will post them in a blog.