Harnam Water Meadows

Water Meadows during irrigation.

A pasture productive system in traditional English agriculture.

Farnoosh Bazrafkan

The Harnham Water Meadows are located inland in the South-Western part of England. The water catchment area of
Harnham being a part of the county of Wiltshire. The rivers of this area are largely spring-fed and provide a stable flow
throughout the year. Along the floodplains of these rivers a series of (abondoned) water meadows can be found.
Water meadows are part of a well known irrigation system in England. The chalk valley landscapes of Wessex are an important county for water meadows because of the topsoil texture and slightly alkaline water they provide, elements that are needed for grass sward development.

The Harnham Water Meadows, as a remnant of the 17th-century farming revolution, form an important part of the historical English landscape. These floodplain meadows are altered in such a way as to control the flow of water in order to improve agricultural activities. Due to their common occurrence, water meadows are often regarded as semi-natural features in the landscape while in reality they are notably artificially constructed.

The water system plan including mills, hatches and aqueducts.

In more detail, in figure 17 it becomes evident that the two mills at Salisbury and Harnham are integrated into the water system and provide a raised water level upstream through impoundment. Then, the main carriages, controlled by
so-called hatches or sluice gates, allow the flow of water into the meadows. Eventually, river water would run along the tops of the constructed ridges so that water trickles through the grass at a depth of 25mm. The passage of water would return back into the river system via drains that lead to a tail drain back into the river Avon.

Circular Stories

Initially, water meadows were part of the English agricultural “Sheep-Corn System”. The meadows provided grass while the sheep grazing this grass provided fertilization, leading to better crops on surrounding arable fields. Within this agricultural system, “floated” watermeadows were used for irrigation in the winter or early in spring, bringing nutrients and oxygen into the soil. Typically, this caused the grass to start growing about one month earlier than un-floated floodplain meadows. Later in the season, during the summer when the soil was drying out, water meadows were re-watered so that (typically) two cuts of hay were taken and used to feed other animals – cattle and horses. The drowning of the meadows took place in a cyclical management system. Meadows were usually drowned
for a few days followed by drained for a few days (3-7 days). In mid-March when grass would reach a height of 150mm, sheep would graze the fields of the meadows. Towards the end of May, the sheep would be removed again, allowing the grass to produce hay crops. From June until the end of September dairy cattle grazed, causing problems for the meadow surface and water banks. The latter leads to bedwork maintenance during the end of the fall.

Angkor Hydraulic City

The world’s most extensive medieval sacred water management network of the ancient Kmer Empire.

Krit Thienvutichai

Angkor Wat is one of the most important archaelogical sites in Southeast Asia. WIth impressive monuments, several different ancient urban plans and large water reservoirs, the site is a unique concentration of features testifying to an exceptional civilization (UNESCO).

Water management zones classified by topographic condition.

The hydraulic city was classified into three principle zones, with their topographic conditions of hydrogeology and elevation, functioned as one large system to supply the whole region. In the collector zone, the water was taken from natural rivers. In the aggregator and collector zones, water was stored mainly in the earthen embankments of barays, temple moats and small reservoirs.

The temple island of Naek Pean used to function as a hospital. The central pond symbolizes a mythical lake in the Himalayas whose water is thought to cure all illness. The water overflows from the central pond through chapels to fill up four small ponds with healing water. The ancient Khmers may have believed that bathing in its successive ponds would have restore balance within the body and cured illness or at least washed away sin.

The Naek Pean water management structure.

The New Dutch Waterline

Fort Voordrop on the New Dutch Waterline.

Water as a defence line comprised of a system of waterworks for inundating and military elements for troops.

Huadong Zhu

The New Dutch Waterline was built to defend Holland, the west part of the Netherlands and it is 85 km long. Large areas of agricultural land (polders) were flooded with a layer of approximately 40-60 cm of water- The traditional drainage system of the polder landscape was transformed into a 4 km wide defence line.

The New Dutch Waterline at regional scale.

Pumps and sluices guide the water out of the deep lying polders, in war-time the water could be directed into the polder. In a normal situation the water table is higher during winter. During a dry summer, water needs to be taken in from the boezem system. The boezem system is the discharge water network which brings the polder water from into the outer water. The whole water system can be set in motion by switching the pumping stations on and off or changing the direction of the water flow.

Normally the land is drained for agricultural use. After peat digging, used as fuel the land turned into a lake a became useless. By draining the inner lakes, new, deeper lake-bed polders were created. During the war period, the polders were transformed into lakes again and could not be crossed by enemies on foot or by horse.

Delving peat.

During normal times, the water is pumped out into the river, part of the boezem system. During war times, the waterworks can switch the direction and pump the water into the polder. Today they pump water into the polders during dry summers.

The existing water management in a polder is based on an independent managed water level. The system consisted of mills, later replaced by pumping stations and the sluices. The polders have different water levels. During the war the area was flooded polder by polder.

Top to bottom. Flood phase 1; Flood phase 2; Flood phase 3.

For the entire booklet of The New Dutch Waterline be so kind as to contact us through the form in the Contact section.

Stepwells of Jaipur

Atmosphere of the stepwells.

Exploring into the ancient water wisdom of Jaipur Rajasthan, India.

Anubhuti Chandna

Jaipur is one of the first planned city of northern India based on the principles of “Shilpa Shastra”, in fact “Jaipur clearly represents a dramatic departure from extant medieval cities with its ordered, grid-like structure – broad streets, criss-crossing at right anglese, earmarked sites for buildings, palaces, havelis, temples and gardens, neighbourhoods designated for caste and occupation” (UNESCO, 2015).

During the planning of the city, special attention was given to the water supply system. With half of the city surrounded by the hills, the city took advantage of various rain catchment areas that were available for storage direct response to local geophysical conditions.

Catchment areas of the different systems in the city of Jaipur.

The ruler built 16 miles long canals from the nearby river streams and brought water to the city through aqueducts, As the city grew with increased demand for water, a dam across the river of Dhravyavati was constructed in 1844 along with a canal which runs east to west of the city, wide enough for 5-7 horsemen to ride abreast. This covered canal would then distribute the water through various channels and wells across the city and open at some places for direct access. However, after the construction of the metalled roads and new pipe system of supply, the canal got buried within the markets and its deep walls got filled up.

5 typologies of stepwells in Amber.

Water has a special significance in Hindu mythology, believed to be as a boundary between heaven and earth. For centuries, stepwells and stepped ponds, also known as Bavdis, Bawadis, Baolis or Vavs, have not just played a significant role in functioning as traditional water systems, serving the community through generations but also as hotspots of social, cultural and touristic interactions. “While various water structures such as tanks, cisterns, paved stairways along rivers (ghats) and cylindrical wells are found elsewhere in India, stepwells and stepped ponds are indigenous to semi-arid regions of Gujarat and Rajasthan” (Livingston & Beach, 2002).

Clockwise. Typology 2, Cheela Bawadi; Typology 1, Atreya Bawadi; Typology 3, Sarai Bawadi; Typology 4, Bengali Baba ki Bawadi; Typology 5, Parshuram Dwar ki Bawadi.
Tattar ki Bawadi in Amber.

For the entire booklet of the Stepwells of Jaipur be so kind as to contact us through the form in the Contact section.

Aboriginal Eel Aquaculture

Network of shallow races and ponds for eel harvesting.

Aboriginal eel aquaculture system in
Gunditjmara Country, South West Victoria, Australia.

María José Zúñiga

The Budj Bim Cultural Landscape is located in the Country of the Gunditjmara aboriginal people in Victoria, Australia. Budj Bim (known today as Mount Eccles) is the volcano that thousands of years ago caused an extensive lava flow that transformed the landscape and provided the base for the aquaculture system developed by the Gunditjmara people. The extensive network of canals, traps and weirs was once a highly productive aquaculture system constructed to trap, store and harvest eels. Today, it is recognized as one of the world’s most extensive and oldest aquaculture systems.

Catchment plan showing the lava flow (orange) and the wetland (azure).

Large parts of the system have now disappeared, not only because of environmental changes through time but also because of the modifications done to the site by the British colonization. However, several areas have been protected and reconstructed, showing a network of components that blend in with the landscape. The traces that can be seen now, hold the cultural practice of many generations which had a deep understanding of their land and lived a dynamic relationship with water, materials, nature, and climate.

The most recognizable features are the constructions made with the placement of basalt rocks. This material was used for constraining the water in canals, shallow races or sinkholes. The rocks were piled up across waterways to form weirs and dams. Timber fences became traps in which woven baskets were placed to catch the eels.

Circular Stories

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Gunditjmara people is their extensive knowledge and understanding of their land. This knowledge was passed through generations through oral transmission for thousands of years, and allowed them to obtain an active and profound relationship with nature and the living beings that surround them.

The productivity of the system as well as the settlement of the communities was largely determined by the different seasons. Another factor that was key for the productivity of the system is the understanding of the eel’s life cycle and their migratory behaviour. The kooyang (short-finned eels), spend the majority of their life cycle in fresh waters but return to their spawning grounds along the Coral Sea. The eels have five stages in their life cycle, as adults, they migrate to the sea during summer and autumn for spawning, and return to the fresh water during winter and spring.

Water cycle and eel growth cycle in Gunditjmara Country.
Gunditjmara people.

Kampung Naga

View of Kampung Naga.

An integrated living system of a traditional
Sundanese hamlet in West Java, Indonesia.

Ayu Tri Prestasia and Boomi Kim

The spatial organization of Kampung Naga is influenced by its location on the valley. The topographical characteristics of the site defines the vertical zonation of the hamlet, which is closely related to the utilization of the landscape into the water management system.

Kampung Naga floor plan.

Based on its spatial relation to the settlement area, Kampung Naga can be divided into 3 distinctive zones. The “forbidden forest”, the Sacred Area, is preserved at the top of the composition to infiltrate, filter and store the water through its roots. The settlement area, the Inner Area, is located in the middle with terraced soils following its natural topography. At the lowest level, the Outer Area, fish pond system become the location where almost all the water-related activities take place. Bamboo fences are used as the boundary of the settlement area which at the same time clearly separates these three zones.

Strategic position of the areas on the topography.

Kampung Naga maintains the traditional living with nature amidst modernity that develops around the area. No new technology such as the use of electricity and related devices is allowed in the hamlet. The boundary of Kampung Naga is strictly preserved to balance the number of people whose lives can be supported by the food supply and the ability to manage the wastewater inside the village. While maintaining the number of people who live inside, the rest of the family members can live outside the village.

Although almost all water-related activities are located on the Outer Area, water is treated as a major part of their lives. People keep its space to “breathe”, use it wisely, and purify the wastewater before finally being returned to its original place. Centralization of the activities are designed as an integrated system of water and ecological cycle.

Circular Stories

Nature works in circular systems. Living with nature, people in Kampung Naga believe that they need to understand thoroughly and preserve this circularity. Water, as one of the main resources of lives, is used wisely to maintain its circularity. The three water sources which are located on the higher parts of the topography are kept clean free from any activities that could contaminate the water quality. People are forbidden to cut trees in the forest on the hill to maintain its ability to absorb and purify the rainwater to the ground water table. In this case, myth and tradition are used by the community as rules that have to be obeyed. After the water is used for daily activities, it is purified by fishpond systems before finally being returned to the river.

Circularity in a house scale, Kampung Naga village.

Ksôkong Tsùn Irrigation System

Atmosphere of Kaoshiung canal system.

A traditional irrigation system that set the
the foundation of Kaohsiung City.

Man-Chuan Sandy Lin

The growth of Kaohsiung is closely related to its irrigation system. The Ksôkong Tsùn irrigation system is a traditional water management and irrigation system used for the purpose of agriculture. The system dates back in 19th century and it has been claimed as municipal heritage site of the city of Kaohsiung.

Plan showing zoom in detail of Cao-Gong irrigation system.

The Ksôkong Tsùn irrigation system consists mainly four types of elements: dam, inlet, waterway, water retention pond.

Circular Stories

In Taiwan, the connection between land and people was once profound and unbreakable, especially in agricultural society before modernization.

Water from river Ko-pin-khe is obtained from a dam, regulated using inlets, to irrigate rice fields following natural topography and weaved an aquatic landscape. Besides the rice fields, water plants production such as taros and water chestnuts, were located in the water retention. This agriculture production, together with aquaculture, formed a circular system that supported one another. On the landscape, Ksô-kong irrigation system accommodated a variety of human activities. At the time people were close to water, scenes like women doing laundry and socializing by the water, children playing in the field, and men fishing on the edge of waterways were common on daily basis.

A story of circularity of a lifestyle that utilizes water resource as irrigation system in southern Taiwan.

Xinghua Duotian Agrosystem

Atmosphere of the system with boats for tourist.

A traditional water-land utilization technique
developed by Chinese ancestors.

Rapa Surajas

The map illustrates the landscape condition of the area which is located inside the Lixiahe plain. The geographical condition is a low-lying area surrounded by higher land as the borders. Lixiahe plain is highly influenced by the rivers and the Yellow Sea since it is a deltaic area with an average height of 2.5 meters above sea level. The development of the Yellow river brought various types of soil and sedimentation to the area, and this led to the changed of the ecological condition of the wetland.

Landscape condition is not the only factor that triggered the Chinese ancestor to invent the raised field, but the sociological condition was also a significant aspect. Xinghua is located in the area surrounded by major rivers which were distinctively an important commercial trade area (Yanying etl., 2014). The population overgrew which led to massive food demand. This essential problem can only be solved by increasing the cultivable area (The People’s Government of Xinghua City ,2014).

As a consequence, Xinghua people began to explore the possibility to increase cultivable land. One of the potentials brought by the occurrence of the hygrophytes which began to grow in the area (The People’s Government of Xinghua City, 2014), this is the indicator of the fertile soil quality brought by the yellow river. Xinghua people began to dig the soil from the river and mounding the earth platform to create the floating farmland. It is when the raised field has begun to form.

Catchment map shows different type of soil and sedimentation brought by the Yellow River.

More than thousands of raised fields had been constructed to produce agricultural products for the community. It created a unique landscape pattern for the area. Xinghua became the important cultivated land and the Duotian-raised field also contributed to a flood control system of the area.

Although this technique has been applied in various areas all over the world, Xinghua Duotian is one of the few traditional systems which is still functional. Its long history and adaptability to the excessive water condition make Xinghua Duotian different from other raised field systems. It is recognized as an example of sustainability in agriculture (The People’s Government of Xinghua City, 2014).

Circular Stories

The previous flood-prone area has been sustainably utilized by combining forestry, agriculture and aquaculture. The trees planted on the ridges provided fruits and food for the ducks, feeding fishes in the ditches, raising crabs and lobsters inside the soil of the raised field. The natural aqua-planting became a great source of food for birds and ducks while their roots acted as a high quality fertilizer (The People’s Government of Xinghua City, 2014). The new ecological network has contributed to the growth of the crops and created a remarkable landscape to attract a discrete number of tourists. The area is fully established, bringing considerable economic benefits while securing biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Kuttanad Kayalnilam Agrosystem

Aerial view of the agrosystem.

A traditional paddy farming system
below sea level.

Naeema Ali

The birth of the cultural landscape was marked by the onset of the land reclamation process, locally known as “Kayalkuthu”. When the region encountered acute food shortage in the late 1800s, the virgin landscapes were considered as a gift from the backwaters and were brought to agricultural glory.

Kuttanad cultural landscape.

Here, water management was quintessentially a unit of the cultural expression of the site specific challenges faced by people, be in terms of topography, climate or social hierarchy. The low-lying landscape was subjugated for the benefit of men and women and how they did this narrates the legend behind the existing agricultural landscape of Kuttanad. These radical ingenuities tell us stories of how humans and nature exchanged roles between being makers and takers of the landscape.

Circular Stories

The salt which came across as a curse sealing the fate of the farmers, however, was a blessing for the fishermen due to fish migration from the sea. Hence, the circle of life in Kuttanad was explicitly linked to this cycle of blessing and curse intermingling with the cycle of water and salt. Likewise, Kayalnilams also operated to optimize their performance within this spatio-temporal context specific to Kuttanad.

Cyclical water system.

Delhi Sultanate Waterworks

Typical Baoli stepwell atmosphere.

Ancient network of water harvesting
structures in Delhi, India.

Tanvi Gupta

Delhi is located in the Northern part of India being continuously inhabited since the 6th century B.C. Through most of its history, Delhi has served as the capital of various kingdoms, most notably the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal empire. Two prominent features of the geography of Delhi are the Yamuna floodplains and the Delhi ridge.

Delhi’s urban waterworks developed in early thirteenth century. They took the following main forms of hauz (water tank), baoli (stepwell) and bund (embankment). Collectively these small structures served the sultanate capitals of South Western Delhi. As with other ancient and medieval water systems, they were incremental and coordinated. Urban lakes, tanks and reservoirs were sited in gently sloping areas adjacent to hillside water control structures.

Bund network along Delhi Ridge.

Delhi sultanate waterworks developed during the early 13th century. They took three main forms – the bund network (embankment), hauz (water tank), and baoli (stepwell). These reflect the main strategies of the Delhi Sultanate water works – the bund network helps in directing and capturing the runoff from the ridge, the hauz stores the surplus monsoon surface water runoff and recharges groundwater while the baolis tap into the shallow groundwater along with storing rainwater.

Circular Stories

Circularity of the Delhi Sultanate Waterworks system.

Delhi Sultanate waterworks or harvesting structures were well coordinated with one another, each structure supporting the existence of the other. The bunds, the royal tanks called hauz and the baoli storage structures aided water evaporation and condensation into the atmosphere which again would be captured in the ridge landscape during monsoon.

Today, these water structures lie in a dilapidated state with some having been restored for heritage and tourism purposes. Thus, it is important to learn from past methods of harvesting water to overcome the hydrological problems Delhi is facing today.