Introduction to the principles of a Water Retention Landscape

Desertification, droughts and floods have a common reason: the damage of the hydrological balance by deforestation, industrial agriculture and sealed surfaces in urban areas. Naked soil becomes hot and looses the ability to absorb water. Rain erodes the topsoil. The earth body dries out, global groundwater reserves and fertility decrease. For food sovereignty we need a proper water balance.

A Water Retention Landscape is a model for natural and decentralized water management and restoration of damaged ecosystems. It is a basis for reforestation, horticulture and agriculture in regions threatened by desertification, and is part of a comprehensive model for sustainability on a large scale including water, food, energy and community building.

In short words the basic principle of the Water Retention Landscape is:

No rainwater should run over the earth surface but rather be infiltrated into the soil where it falls. Taking a certain territory into the focus the goal would be that no more rainwater and waste water leaves the territory but rather all water flowing away comes from springs.

If the aquifer is recharged water is available from springs and from wells in sufficient quantities for all human usage. In most cases the soil and the earth body is not capable to infiltrate the rainwater immediately. Therefore different methods are applied within the Water Retention Landscape to restore the Water balance. This includes: building of retention reservoirs (ponds, lakes), terraces, low proportion of sealed surfaces, road water infiltration, swales, permanent vegetation cover, mulching, adequate grazing management, afforestation…

If the principles are understood and integrated in the planning and management, water is available all through the year, erosion is stopped, landslides are avoided, vegetation is growing vigorous, rivers are constant flowing, floods are moderate, risk of fire is low, agricultural production is more secured…

Therefore we stress the importance of sustainable water management. In countries which have a low development of infrastructure there is a large potential to implement it in the right manner and not repeating the mistakes of the past and current management.

A detailed description of the Water Retention Landscape is published in the brochure “The secret of Water” by Bernd Walter Mueller.