September 2015
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Why Is Water So Important?

In an earlier post, I listed many of the projects I’ve worked on around our property. You can see it here. In time, I will talk about all of these projects in depth. First I plan to introduce each of the key project areas. Today I will begin with the most important resource of all – water.

Water is critical to our survival. It is the most important compound on the Earth, and the key reason why our planet supports such an abundance of life. Water is one of the basic needs of survival. Other than air, nothing stops us in our tracks faster than a lack of clean water.

Here are some interesting facts about water:

70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water.

Our bodies are made up of more than 50% water. That’s seems just plain weird when you think about it.

Water flows downhill when it isn’t under pressure. This is obviously useful in plumbing but it is also very important in permaculture as I’ll discuss later.

Water exists in three phases: solid, liquid, and gas. Each of these is very useful to us. We use the solid form to keep things cool. We use the liquid form to drink and bath. We use the gaseous form to heat things and to store energy.

Water is the only liquid that expands when it freezes. This creates some very important affects in the soil. It can also be a pain in our necks sometimes.

Water has an extremely high surface tension. I’m a science nerd and this fact is particularly interesting to me. It has profound effects that most people don’t think about. Maybe I’ll do an entire post on that another time.

In most disaster situations, the lack of clean water is the number one killer. When people are thirsty enough, they will drink whatever water they can find. Poor sanitation leads to low-quality water sources and the spread of diseases. Quite often more people die from dehydration due to diarrhea than the disaster it itself.

Water is incredibly important on a farm
We drink it. We bath in it. We grow food with it. Sometimes it rains a lot and other times it seems like it won’t ever rain. We call the latter a drought. If we run out of water during a draught, our plants suffer. Just ask California, which is in the midst of an historic drought. To more effectively manage these situations, we have to use water judiciously. Storing water is important to get through the dry periods. A properly designed permaculture system uses water more efficiently, mitigating the problems caused by fluctuating drought and wet seasons. In later posts, we’ll discuss techniques for water catchment, storage, and distribution. Some of these techniques will be familiar like catching rainwater in tanks and distributing with irrigation systems, but others will be unfamiliar to those outside the permaculture community. My goal is to teach more people to use these not-so-familiar techniques. Please keep following as we explore further. The possibilities are very exciting.

Resources for this post:
Wikipedia Article on Water:
Wikipedia Article on Permaculture:

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