When water is scarce or is squandered, drought and desertification ensue. However, too much water results in flooding, erosion, and destruction. Water needs and abundance varies widely, so particular design strategies and elements must be highly site-specific. However, general strategies have been formulated for more ecological and natural water management. Four main principles are Slow It, Spread It, Sink it, and Grow It. Slowing water down vastly weakens it’s erosive force, and leads to water depositing soil or other materials. Water moves most quickly when there is a lot of it, so spreading it out serves as a means of fractionating its force and dispersing potential problems. Finally, sinking water into soil and eventually bedrock means that more water is available to plants in dry times, and the water is more available to be transpired and returned into the atmosphere. Similarly, any increase in vegetation means more shade, more transpiration, and better anchoring of potentially-eroded soil, so trees, shrubs, grasses, etc. are generally beneficial in any water system. These principles fly in the face of many traditional water management techniques that tend to concentrate water and cause it to flow in strait lines and collect on impermeable surfaces. However, the techniques of the past have proven themselves inadequate in addressing growing problems. All of these simple principles: Slow It, Spread It, Sink It, and Grow It, can be found in cities and towns, on farms, and in forests and other natural areas.


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