Water is the essential part of our environmental restoration project; indeed, it may be used tu rebuild the water cycle and thus restaure soils and vegetations.
The system is like a source that we can draw directly from, or that we can use intelligently to maximize the benefits. It is a system replicating the water cycle on a small scale artificially in ordrer to trigger natural water cycle on a big scale.
The system does act as an ecosystem seed; the soil will gradually rehydrates in the greenhouse and its surroundings, and the virtuous circle is restored. Plants growing near the system will protect the ground from solar radiation, evaporation will therefore decrease and humidity will rise. Vegetation will spread even in a desert context.
For this purpose, it is necessary to build a network of small diameter wells (pressure only depends on depth) permanently supplied with water. This, in order to replicate the system of johads. A johad is a traditional Indian irrigation system, consisting of an open reservoir filled with monsoon rains, whose walls are watertight and whose bottom is dug with a hole in contact with the ground. The water seeps into the ground due to pressure, evaporation is very low since water is injected directly in depth. Instead of monsoon rains the system is used to fill the johads with pure water.
As part of the projectof the NGO Tarun Bharat Sangh which revitalized the johad concept in Alwar District (Rajasthan, India), many small dams have also been built along the watercourses to slow down the flow and increase infiltration into the soil by percolation. In less than twenty years, an area considered to have the most severe water deficiency in India has become fully covered with forests and fields. Rivers that had disappeared for a century have reappeared, same for springs. India, however, has a monsoon climate that guarantees annual rainfall, which is not the case for all the arid zones of the world. Nevertheless, it is possible to replace the monsoon rains with our system and to combine it with the benefits of the johads, which are based on underground irrigation.
Read more about Johad here.
Replace monsoon rains
There are two ways to proceed. The first – and the simplest to implement – is to create a network of johads in the greenhouse part of our system. Part of the water participates in the water cycle inside the system and the rest seeps deep into the ground. The second is to deploy a network of tubes supplying wells outside the system, which requires more work but allows much larger scale irrigation.
In the second way, we are using knowledge of the topography of the place of implantation. This allows a better selection of the areas to irrigate. If one had to choose the best areas to irrigate, watershed boundaries seem good places; since the system acts as a source, it should therefore be placed as far upstream as possible to maximize the effect. To this end, the idea would be to build the system on the watershed boundaries and near local peaks in order to naturally benefit from the pressure associated with the vertical drop to distribute the water with tubes in the vicinity. If the system is set up on hills or mountains it will act as water tower.
A series of johads drilled at regular intervals should create green barriers along the watershed boundaries and the natural river beds, this will produce rivers and rehydrate the entire region. As you probably know, green barriers are the best way to stop the desert. The creation of vegetation barriers will trigger the development of the flora which will attract and benefit to local fauna.
Hydration of the soil brings additional advantages such as reduction of forest fires since they are mostly a consequence of drought. Moreover, all human settlements downstream will receive clear water loaded with minerals through the natural hydrographic system. If there is enough water, it can even be released directly to the surface to create new rivers.
The combination of all these aspects provides the possibility to create a virtuous cycle on a large scale !