Surprising Places to Harvest Water

Ned Breslin of Water for People is right. Millions of dollars are wasted every year on water projects around the world that break, are abandoned, or prove to be unsustainable.  In his blog, Breslin argues that the global water scarcity problem is most effectively solved using innovative solutions at a local level. ·

This got me curious . . . what have people around the world done over the centuries about their local water problems?  Here are some surprising methods different societies have used to sustainably harvest water on a small-scale, local level.

Dew Ponds capture unseen moisture from the hills in England.  The ponds were created to water livestock where no water source was readily available. Dew Ponds rarely run dry, even in the hottest summers or drought.  They were first built in the first century A.D. and over 500 are still in existence today. (click here to learn more)

Fog  Catcher When the fog rolls in from the Pacific Ocean in Peru, large plastic sheets capture the moisture and provide hundreds of gallons of water each day.  The fog collectors are a major source of water for the local community who have no other convenient water sources. (click here for more information)  MIT is researching materials that could further improve fog technology. (click here for more information)


Qanats are engineering treasures located in the arid Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa. As far back as 6,000 years ago, the Persians developed a type of underground irrigation canal to bring water from aquifers to their gardens and farms.  This made permanent habitation in the desert possible.  (click here for more information)

Seawater Greenhouse This is an economical method of producing fresh water in hot, dry regions near oceans. Instead of drilling wells, which can deplete groundwater, or desalinating sea water, which is energy intensive, a seawater greenhouse produces water for crops in arid areas using only seawater and sunlight. (click here for more information)

Fortunately, many communities are rediscovering the ancient wisdom of sustainably harvesting local water

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One Response to Surprising Places to Harvest Water

  1. Marion says:

    Both global warming and water shortages are very serious issues. I think the figure that the World Health Organisation has calculated is that there are 2 billion people on the planet that do not have access to a reliable supply of fresh water. I was in Africa last year and there was something of a drought. The only well still with water was the one at the local school (if you can call it a school). It meant that most people had to walk several miles to get water. We were OK because we had a truck and could buy bottled water by the case load, most people have neither transport or money to buy water. Seeing the effects first hand opens your eyes far more than anything you see in the media.One consolation of global warming is that it does increase the average global rainfall, it also causes droughts but the net result is an increase in rainfall for most people.Water shortages are a catastrophe now, global warming set to be an ever greater catastrophe in the future if nothing is done about it. We need to be treating both issues as a top priority, there seems to be a lot of talking about both but not a lot of action.

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