How to restore the water cycle
The watercology guidelines
The quest to bring a conceptual overview and practical guide to the regenerative water field continues as our intrepid group continues to meet weekly, with new people popping in to give their thoughts.
Having worked on the Water Principles for a while now, we shifted to working on the Water Guidelines. The difference between the two is that the Water Principles are about the scientific principles and facts of the water cycle, and the Water Guidelines are about how we go about restoring the water cycle. The Water Guidelines a succinct how-to-guide.
The guidelines are for an emerging field and discipline. I have been asking people what they think about naming this field, and interested in hearing opinions from more people. Michal Kravcik called it the New Water Paradigm. http://www.waterparadigm.org/download/Water_for_the_Recovery_of_the_Climate_A_New_Water_Paradigm.pdf . But that is a bit of a clunky name. Other possible names are watercology and regenerative water. This field could become a scientific discipline that is at the intersection of climatology, hydrology and ecology, with an emphasis on how the water flows through and between our ecosystems, atmosphere and geological systems, impacting hydration and climate. It can also be a practical field in the vein of permaculture and agroecology, which also came up with their own names for their fields. I personally like watercology right now because it seems to me it can better serve both as a practical discipline name and a scientific field, it rolls off the tongue easier, and its more unique. Interested to hear what others think we can call this field.
In our Water Guidelines meeting we used post-it notes to put up ideas and rearrange them on a miro board. Ananda Fitzsimmons started categories that we could put different guidelines under.
Heres the video of our meeting
I then mulled over these post-it note ideas we came up to build a tentative set of Water Guidelines. An exercise that the reader can also try.
I started writing things like “Create and restore the wetlands to capture water in the wet season to irrigate landscape naturally during dry season, to slow water drainage to ocean, to keep rivers running year round, to provide a buffer for floods and wildfires, to help refill aquifers, to provide evapotranspire water to help create rain, and to nurture biodiversity” and “Grow forests because they are able to absorb rainwater, evapotranspire water to increase the small water cycle, emit biomolecules which help seed rain, cool the planet, and create pressure systems that affect the wind patterns which carry water vapor.”
But I realized each guideline was getting super clunky. I decided to split the sentences up into a part that formed a simpler guideline, and a part that became a principle.
So here is what I came up for the Watercology/RegenWater Guidelines. Its a draft, not meant to be fully correct.
1. RETAIN RAINWATER IN THE SOIL AND LANDSCAPE RATHER THAN DRAINING IT
2. INCREASE SOIL ABILITY TO HOLD WATER
3.INCREASE AMOUNT OF SOIL BY GROWING MORE VEGETATION, COMPOSTING FOOD AND HUMAN WASTE, RELEASING SEDIMENT FROM LARGE DAMS, AND DEPAVING CONCRETE AND ASPHALT.
4. USE EARTHWORKS, PLANTS, ROCKS, DEAD BIOMASS, AND ANIMAL ENGINEERS TO SLOW, SINK, AND SPREAD THE PATH OF DOWNHILL FLOW OF RAINWATER
5. RESTORE AND GROW FORESTS, WETLANDS AND GRASSLANDS
6. RESTORE RIVERS AND THEIR ABILITY TO CREATE WETLANDS DURING LARGE RAINS
7. UTILIZE KEYSTONE SPECIES IN RESTORATION
8. USE BIODIVERSITY TO SPREAD ECOSYSTEMS GEOGRAPHICALLY
9. CREATE CHAIN OF WETLANDS AND FORESTS FROM OCEAN TO INLAND
10. USE ECOLOGICAL SUCCESSION TO GET TO MORE EFFICIENT WATER RETENTIVE ECOSYSTEMS
11. ENABLE SPATIALLY DISTRIBUTED EVAPOTRANSPIRATION TO CREATE RAINS IN DRYER AREAS
12. DECREASE AIR POLLUTION.
13. STORE WATER AND CAPTURE FLOODS IN SOIL, WETLANDS, AND AQUIFERS RATHER THAN IN LARGE DAMS
14. USE SOIL AND WETLANDS IN CONJUNCTION WTH NATURALLY LARGE RAINS TO REFILL GROUNDWATER UNDER FARMS, CITIES, AND OTHER PARTS OF LANDSCAPE.
15. USE GROUNDWATER RATHER THAN DIVERTED AQUEDUCT WATER FOR FARMS AND CITIES
Here are Water Principles I came up with that would help explain these Water Guidelines. They are a bit clunky right now, but I thought I would include them anyway. They could merge with some of the Water Principles we came up with in the last edition of this newsletter.
1. Retaining more water in the landscape means more water available for the small water cycle
2. Fungi, microbes, and other organisms decomposing plant and animal matter help build the soil carbon sponge, which then allows it to hold more water.
3. Wetlands can capture rainwater in wet season and help hydrate landscape into dry season, slow water drainage to ocean, keep oceans running year round, provide buffer for wildfire and floods, be a biodiverse habitat and evapotranspire water to create rain.
4 Forests are able to absorb rainwater in its soil, evapo-transpire
water, emit biomolecules that help seed rain, move heat from the surface of the planet to higher up, and create pressure systems that affect air flow patterns.
5. The size of rains follows an earthquake-like power law size scale.
6. Large rains can cause un-dammed, naturally banked, un-leveed rivers, to overflow to create wetlands.
7. A chain of wetlands and forests can guide water to move inland through dew, a series of small water cycle rains, and by the way it affects the air flow patterns.
8. Air pollution leads to the seeding of many smaller water droplets that are not big enough to form rain, creating a haze that heats up the planet.
9. Ecological succession can go from a stage with plants that grow in degraded soil, to biodiverse stages with rich soil that retain more rainwater, evapotranspire more water, and increase the small water cycle.
10. Organisms form a network of relationships which influences the population of each other, with some organisms directly influencing the water cycle.
11. Large dams block nutrients flowing downstream, don't enable the growth of more vegetation, create colder water, lessen river biodiversity, and have less evapotranspiration.
12. Evapotranspiration move heat from the surface to atmosphere.
13. Evapotranspiration rates are forest > crops > wetlands > grasslands > bare soil > paved over land
14. Evapotranspiration water vapor is moved by atmospheric currents, and combines with humidity in the air to create clouds under favorable conditions.
15. Biomolecules from vegetation, fungi, and microbes help seed rain.
16. Sponge cities guide stormwater through the soil and wetlands, and into the aquifers, whilst cleansing it.
You can join in our forum discussion of these Water Principles here
Marcel de Berg of https://greenwatercools.org/ jumped on our Water Guideline call in the second hour of our call, in the video above. He talked about the PeTa effect, an effect which if true is a game changer. The PeTa effects says that when water vapor condenses into clouds infrared radiation in the range 8-14um is given off. This radiation then goes into space, thus cooling the planet. If the PeTa effect is true, the small water cycle would be key in slowing global warming. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/275097033_PeTa_radiation_under_ice_deposition