Foto: Vojta Herout, www.vojtaherout.com
System of Small Pools and Field Margins for Water Retention
Czech winner of the Landscape 2020 category
Do you run out of water in your well and your meadow or garden are getting dry? And then the torrential rain comes and you have water and mud from the surrounding field everywhere? Instead of thinking about climate change, Lubor Křížek from the village of Dřevniště near Sedlčany built a system of ponds, dams and drains, which can keep the water around his house longer when it is dry and does not allow it to do muddy damage when torrential rains come. As he says with exaggeration, all you have to do is observe nature, chase water along the contour line, interrupt amelioration, ditches and straight riverbeds, get a good digger driver and not be afraid to pick up some hand tools.
The Adaptation Journey
The positive impact
Lubor Křížek has known the meadows around the gamekeeper's house, which he decided to renovate, since his childhood. At that time, they preferred to walk there in rubber boots. But something has changed over the years. The soil dried up. In recent summers, cracks in the ground have appeared there, so big you could put your hand in them. Although rainfall may appear to be abundant and intense, due to the large built-up areas and dead soil of suffocated fields, the water drains away from the landscape and cannot be absorbed into the soil enough. And that is what Lubor Křížek decided to change at least on his land.
How does it work?
In the surrounding of his house on an area of approximately one hectare, Lubor Křížek built a system of 15 small ponds and several hedgerows, dams and gutters from paved areas to retain rainwater and increase the water retention of the area. Křížek also interrupted ameliorations. He thus solved a long-standing problem with the lack of water in the well and in the vicinity of the gamekeeper’s house, which had gotten worse as a result of the long-term drought. At the same time, he prevented usual flooding of his house with clay from the surrounding fields. The area can now retain above-average rainfalls and gradually releases water into the landscape. It absorbs it and evaporates into the atmosphere gradually. Today, the area can hold about 250 cubic meters of water and even higher volume of water is absorbed.
The pools are surrounded by a hand-mown meadow and a vegetable and herb garden, which, thanks to its ingenious location close to the water, does not have to be artificially irrigated.
With minimal costs, without subsidies or other support, the owner built an ecosystem which already in the first year after implementation became home to countless species of animals and plants and continues to take care of it. It shows that even the individual can contribute with his determination towards fight against drought and ensure an increase in the biodiversity of a slowly fading landscape.
The house was surrounded by ameliorated meadow which was not regularly mowed. The boundaries were flattened, so nothing prevented erosion and soil flushing from the surrounding fields. The water level in the well that belongs to the house was rapidly declining. During heavy rain, the driveway and waterlogged walls of the house were being damaged, and the cellar and barn were regularly flooded. In addition, torrential rains always brought mud into the pond.
Operation and maintenance
The costs of caring for this area consist mainly in the time put into it, which is mainly devoted to mowing the surrounding vegetation and maintaining the littoral - the strip of water close to the banks in a suitable ratio to the free water surface.
If the area is not maintained for decades, clogging of the ponds will occur and their eventual restoration will be needed. It would mean renting a digger.
Obstacles and challenges
If there is at least some water, nothing else is a problem.
Operation and maintenance
The author of the project was most surprised by nature itself. The regeneration of the place was incredibly fast and motivated him to continue with more actions, which he is now working on.
For example, he created a pond for the neighbour and provides advice to other people interested in these measures. After seven years, he convinced the local farmers not to grow sweet corn, as it is a crop that promotes erosion.
How much did it cost?
The author calculated the cost of building ponds, field borders and walls on less than a hectare of land around his own house at 38 thousand CZK (1.438 EUR).
It was funded the family's own resources.
It is currently not possible to determine the lifetime of the measure. The estimated savings when the new water management is in place is 80 thousand crowns (3.028 EUR).
Revitalization of water elements Use of rainwater Flood control measures Biodiversity Heat waves and thermal island Floods and torrential rainfall Lack of water and drought Soil erosion