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.

Dewatering motor

Dewatering station and motor

An indigenous technical device placed at the edge of the Kayalnilam for pumping water out from low-lying areas to the major canals or backwaters. It consists of a submerged brass vessel that sucks water out and is run by an electric motor kept inside the pump house. The sucked water flows out through a rectangular brass box.

  • Project: Kuttanad Kayalnilam Agrosystem, Kerala, India
  • Climate: Tropical monsoon
  • Year: 1880-1974 (a modified version is still in use)
  • Water type: Seasonal mixing of saline and freshwater
  • Landscape: Polder landscape in a deltaic basin
  • Altitude: -3 – +1.5 m.a.s.l
  • Soil condition: Sandy loam clay formed from riverine or lacustrine deposits
  • Material: Wood and Brass
  • Temporality: Seasonal
  • Form: Point
  • Use or Function: Pump water out

Tsùn – 圳

Tsùn – 圳
Irrigation ditch

An open waterway that provides clean fresh water for drinking and irrigational use. Small ones are called “Kau 溝”, big ones are called called “Tsùn 圳”.

  • Project: Ksôkong Tsùn Irrigation System, Taiwan
  • Climate: Tropical savanna climate with dry-winter characteristics
  • Year: proximity 1839
  • Water type: river water
  • Landscape type: river plain
  • Altitude: 0-20 m.a.s.l. (meters above sea level)
  • Soil condition: alluvial soil
  • Materials: excavated soil and rammed earth
  • Period: permanent
  • Form: a network of lines
  • Use or Function: water supply for agriculture

Pi – 陂

Pi – 陂
Water gate

Water gate that regulates water between irrigation ditches.

  • Project: Ksôkong Tsùn Irrigation System, Taiwan
  • Climate: Tropical savanna climate with dry-winter characteristics
  • Year: 1839
  • Water type: river water
  • Landscape type: river plain
  • Altitude: 0-20 m.a.s.l. (meters above sea level)
  • Soil condition: alluvial soil
  • Materials: brick, metal, wood
  • Period: permanent
  • Form: Point
  • Use or Function: control

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.