This month we travel to “Las Alpujarras”, a region on the southern slopes of the the Sierra Nevada in Andalusia, Spain. Like quite a few spanish words, “Las Alpujarras” comes from arabic, meaning “sierra of pastures”. And what I’d like to do today is look at why this region of Spain in particular has been known for its rich fertile pastures for hundreds of years at least.
Yes, you’ve guessed it. It’s to do with water irrigation! Actually, it’s also to do with the rich soil in the area too, since the whole of the Sierra Nevada mountain range is nothing other than a raised sea bed. It’s hundreds of thousands of years of sea bed, turned fertile farming land. But one of the main reasons is due to a complex system of water conduits, which run across the mountain slopes, taking mountain water to villages and farm land alike. Seeing this first hand, I am reminded of bootlace fungus under the bark of a tree, which creates a network of ‘laces’ stretching over large areas of a tree.
“Acequias” or Water Conduits – The many water roads in the Sierra Nevada.
Since time immemorial, man has always looked for a way to handle water. One of his concerns was to be able to manage this resource. Therefore, in areas where there is scarcity, is where there is evidence of aqua systems architecture.
The seasonality of the rainfall, as well as the steep slopes of the terrain, prevented naturally that the water could be taken advantage of in the mid heights of the Sierra Nevada. The Arabs, thanks to their knowledge of water systems, managed to devise these canals, which collect water from the high mountain and distribute it to medium and low areas to irrigate small terraces of crops, or to filter through the land, allowing the growth of pastures or emerging later in the form of springs in lower areas.
These “acequias”, also play an important role in the ecosystems of the Sierra Nevada, as they help maintain vegetation of great interest, they serve as support for the flora and fauna and collaborate in a very important way to regulate the water irrigation of the area.
The preservation of the landscape of the Alpujarra, its life and its essence, would not be possible without the recovery and maintenance of this unique ethnological heritage.
Pure Water Irrigation Please
Below is the capital of Las Alpujarras, a small village called Orgiva, and surrounded by literally hundreds of small holdings, most of which are fed by this network of water conduits. One characteristic of the produce from this area, and indeed much of southern Spain, is that it comes from a large number of small holdings or “huertas”. This leads to much variety in produce and also quality. One of the challenges of the agency for ecology is to ensure that local farmers know the dangers of using pesticides, herbicides etc which get back into the water. We have a similar challenge when drilling water boreholes, since the ground water itself can show signs of pollution from intense farming in some areas. We work with a partner company – Pure Water Services, to provide comprehensive filtration systems to provide good clean water.
Again, thanks for reading. I will continue to research how we can best use water as a resource, bringing it to as many people as possible and in abundance. Meanwhile, if you would like to know more about channeling water into your own home, or how to improve water irrigation on your farm or business, please read on…
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Post on 31 May 2019 by Jenny Hormel
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