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Water Science & Technology Vol 44 No 6 pp 189–195 © IWA Publishing 2001

Water harvesting techniques for small communities in arid areas

E. Yuen*, M. Anda**, K. Mathew*** and G. Ho****

*Remote Area Developments Group, Institute for Environmental Science, Murdoch University, Western Australia, 6150. E-mail: yuen@essun1.murdoch.edu.au
**Remote Area Developments Group, Institute for Environmental Science, Murdoch University, Western Australia, 6150.
***Remote Area Developments Group, Institute for Environmental Science, Murdoch University, Western Australia, 6150.
****Remote Area Developments Group, Institute for Environmental Science, Murdoch University, Western Australia, 6150.


ABSTRACT
Limited water resources exist in numerous remote indigenous settlements around Australia. Indigenous people in these communities are still living in rudimentary conditions while their urban counterparts have full amenities, large scale water supplies and behavioral practices which may not be appropriate for an arid continent but are supported by extensive infrastructure in higher rainfall coastal areas. As remote indigenous communities continue to develop, their water use will increase, and in some cases, costly solutions may have to be implemented to augment supplies. Water harvesting techniques have been applied in settlements on a small scale for domestic and municipal purposes, and in the large, broadacre farm setting for productive use of the water. The techniques discussed include swales, infiltration basins, infiltration trenches and "sand dam" basins. This paper reviews the applications of water harvesting relevant to small communities for land rehabilitation, landscaping and flood control. Landscaping is important in these communities as it provides shelter from the sun and wind, reduces soil erosion and hence reduced airborne dust, and in some cases provides food and nutrition. Case studies of water harvesting systems applied in the Pilbara Region, Western Australia for landscaping around single dwellings in Jigalong and Cheeditha, in a permaculture garden in Wittenoon and at a college and carpark in Karratha are described.

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