Water Harvesting



In a recent paper, Guttmann-Bond (2010), reviewed the extensive archaeological evidence for rainwater harvesting systems, such as the artificial canals and underground cisterns constructed by Prehistoric farmers of the Negev desert (c. 2000 years ago).

Guttmann-Bone (2010, 358) explains how two of these Prehistoric farms were reconstructed prior to the most extreme drought ever recorded in the Negev and whilst crops failed across the region, the reconstructed farm had a good harvest.

Flood filling ancient water cistern

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Elsewhere in the Near East modern Bedouin groups continue to use ancient cisterns and terraced fields (terraces help to retain water). Recent surveys reveal that these structures are found across Israel, Jordan and India but that most have fallen into disrepair – should the cisterns be renovated it is estimated that they would save 10-15% of water currently being lost (Ibid 358). This is not to suggest that we should revert to old techniques: Guttman-Bond advocates integrating these ancient systems with modern technology to produce new systems that are even more effective.

It is important to realise that traditional methods of rain harvesting need not be restricted to arid climates. Indeed, forward thinking farms in the UK are beginning to implement rain harvesting systems following the recommendations of the Environment Agency

Ancient terraced fields in the Levant

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