Water and sewage

Abundant, clean drinking water is essential for good health and allows human, animal and plant life to prosper. Dealing effectively with biological waste is vital for maintaining sanitary conditions and a constant flow of clean water.

In the more technologically developed world, large investments of energy are dedicated to collecting, moving and cleaning water. While in less developed areas, access to drinking water requires far more investment and improvement, along with better sanitation and irrigation for rearing livestock and crops.

Human-caused environmental degradation, such as deforestation, adds to the extremes of flooding and drought, putting greater pressures on populations around the globe. Respect for water conservation, and preservation of clean water supplies, is fundamental.

It's important to have cost effective, easily implemented ways to make sure water gets to where it is needed, using minimal energy. Employing natural ecosystem services and processes to reduce pollution; improve distribution; filter, manage and make use of waste water and sewage; are among the key permaculture design approaches to achieve this.

The 52 Climate Actions website has a practical action on this subject: Manage water in the landscape.

Water harvesting systems in operation

In this category...

Compost toilets

Compost toilets are a low tech, low cost, chemical free method for dealing with solid waste.


Water is a very important element in Permaculture design. Water systems can achieve greater overall protein production per square metre of water surface than the same area in land systems.

Rainwater harvesting

Rainwater harvesting is the collection of rainwater before it flows into the general water system which is then reused for domestic, commercial or industrial purposes.

Sustainable Urban Drainage

Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) can be used in all types of development and provide a natural approach to managing drainage.

Water tanks

Although water butts are the simplest way to collect rainwater, a larger underground tank system can store enough water to meet your needs and prevents the false economy of using mains water as a back up.

Wetland sewage systems

Natural wetland systems perform many functions that are beneficial to both humans and wildlife. One of their most important functions is water filtration.

Related resources...

FogQuest: Sustainable Water Solutions
Creating Water Foundation
Blog Article : Permaculture sewage treatment – first aid and future proofing for our rivers and seas
Solar Cities: Open-source virtual Hackspace for "Biogas Innoventors and Practitioners"
Green Kashmir
WOCAT Global and Regional Books
ARTICLE : Greywater Mulch Pits - Permaculturenews.org
Practical Action Technical Information Service - Water and Sanitation
CAWST Technical Info Sheets and Knowledgebase Website
Water and Sanitation Resources Page - Practical Action Technical Information Service
Warka Water - water harvesting technique and construction system (Currently in Prototype phase)
Atmospheric Water Harvesting Techniques and Technologies
Wikipedia Entry : Air well (condenser)
Organic Pools UK (Natural Swimming Pools)
ARTICLE : Biogas Project at PRI Sunshine Coast Conclusion
ARTICLE : Biogas Project at PRI Sunshine Coast
SamSamWater Foundation Online Library
Biosand Water Filter (BSF) CAWST Knowledgebase
WHO : Slow Sand Filtration
FogQuest Fog Water Collection Manual
JOURNAL ARTICLE : The Brookside Farm Wetland Ecosystem Treatment (WET) System: A Low-Energy Methodology for Sewage Purification, Biomass Production (Yield), Flood Resilience and Biodiversity Enhancement
Small Earth Dams
Manual on Small Earth Dams - A guide to siting, design and construction
Where the land is greener - case studies and analysis of soil and water conservation initiatives worldwide (Part 1 of 2)
Water Harvesting - Guidelines to Good Practice
Non-Cement Drinking Water ? Drinking Water chapter from Farmers' Handbook
Regrarians Handbook
ORGANIC POOLS - DIY MANUAL - How to Build Your Own Natural Swimming Pool
Small Community Water Supplies: Technology, People and Partnership
Culvert Engineering Booklet
Culvert Design Manual - U.S. EPA
Spring water tapping
Slow Sand Filtration
10.000 liters of water a day from the fog in Lima, Peru
IPCUK 2015 “Water”, International Permaculture Conference
Earthship Biotecture Outlaw Septic Tank - Explained
Biologic Design A presentation about Wetland Ecosystem Treatment (WET) given by Jay Abrahams at Tamera
WATER IS LIFE - The Water Retention Landscape of Tamera
The Creating Water Foundation
International Resource Centre (IRC)
SamSamWater Foundation