Water Symposium 2012

Just got back from the Water Symposium down in Tamera. During my time there and since having come back here to the land, finally, we have been getting a good decent prolonged downpour.

Met and spoke with Sepp Holzer there for a few minutes (via a translator). When I told him that I had an Austrian bee keeper he was keen to know from me whether it’s true that the bees here in Portugal are somehow more resistant to Varroa. I was not able to identify where he got this information from but have since asked Harald, my beekeeper, about this as to whether there is any truth in this. If I get something positive I will feed back.

Regarding the Water Retention Landscape at Tamera (www.tamera.org). The place has about 7 water retention areas. Each one bigger than the other, the biggest of which I had estimated (by eye) to be around 4-5 million litres, perhaps bigger even. It’s deepest point was around 12 metres. Sepp Holzer never held back in mentioning (quite a few times) during the symposium that if they had have followed his advice without doubts then the main water retention area would be around 2-3 times bigger. Of course, now that the area has been holding close to full (even after little rain for almost 12 months) they have realised that he was right and will now extend that one to the original plan put forward by Sepp.

What was new to me was the explanation given with regards to how water should flow in the hydrological cycle; Water captured in the water retention areas seeps down to refill underground aquifiers. The water when deep underground should find it’s stable temperature at around 4 degrees. As it goes deeper, geo-thermal heat pushes the water back up to the surface and flows out through springs (hopefully at higher altitudes than that of the original water retention area), and fully remineralised through this process. I have yet to study this further in order to verify the specifics of how this works. I’d like to find out more about this of course so if anyone has any more information to follow up then please share.

Also learnt (from Rod, a teacher of Permaculture teachers) a little more regarding the way water erodes land. If the land is exposed and warm/hot then as cool water hits the land it will slide off, much like water on a hot pan surface and that once it starts flowing then the water can have a digging effect, due to the fact that the warmer water is wanting to move upwards, therefore creating a kind of backward rolling effect and digging out deep gullys as it moves forward, whereas if the land is cool and therefore the water at a stable cool temperature then the motion of the water is of a spiral nature and it’s effect on the land is not the digging of a deep gully but of creating a wider ‘U’ shape basin. Interesting, however more to research on this also.

According to a speaker at Tamera, Portugal is now officially recognised as undergoing a process of desertification. Regardless of whether it’s official or not there are many signs that show the sad degradation of land and the monocrop Pine and Eucalyptus plantations are not helping this situation.

I will update this post as I learn more. For now I wanted to sum up what I learnt.

Related Links:
Tamera shows how to stop desertification in Southern Portugal