Restoring the water cycle: Justdiggit!



Say Hi to Gunter for me.


Hi Kieara, Michal Kracik replied to me with this blog post he wrote about Cape Town -

A person from his US team, Judy Schwartz, author of Water in Plan Sight, is going to join us here at the hackathon


@William that all sounds great. I’m going to move this conversation to the Knowledge Management hackathon project, so as to not confuse this thread. Apologies to all for distracting into it here. William, Kieara and I have had some initial conversations over on messenger after we met on facebook. She is very interested too and plans to take the idea to Gunter Pauli


Thank you Cindy, I did come across that article. Some people still think building another seventeen billion rand dam is a solution so it’s so important that the correct information gets shared ASAP. I look forward to understanding the rain for climate concept more and hopefully that can be another actionable solution for Cape Town and Southern Africa.


@Cindy I can’t find the Knowledge Management project - does it have another name of is it on another platform?


@William - It’s great you found your way across to:

Crowd-sourced knowledge repository of restoring water cycles in arid regions?

I’m feeling really positive about what might be possible with us all working together!


Definitely! John, are you talking about South African members? @Kieara_Gunn, Maybe with Olivier, and Thierry’s contacts in your part of the world, we can start a project? That land there is very arid and would really benefit. Do you think the mainstream farmers would be keen to be involved? From your land all the way to the east to Kent Tahir Coopers land,…a few hours away is all semi-arid. How much of it is conservation land and how much not being protected that could be restored?

Watch this awesome video that @Johndliu sent me about Watler’s work:

This is mind blowing knowledge about the water cycle and why it is SOOOOO important and holds the key! Recreate this cycle and we can restore our environment! I want to work with Cindy, Walter, John, Olivier, Thierry…all this deep knowledge from so many people to make a diagram that illustrates in a clear way this cycle. That is critical to educating people. I think it will help us to secure funding too.

So @Cindy, I’m available now to actually start working on some of these important hacks after the crazy amount of work of the event is now behind me. We want to showcase how far ideas generated at the hackathon have gone at the next OSCEDays event in June so let’s get busy saving planet earth! (At least undoing the harm two centuries of population explosion coupled with unimpeded industrialized growth has done).

Hey @water_boy, you gotta check out this amazing talk by Walter. @Cindy is a member of Walter’s organization. Olivier of Justdiggit (@omaes72), who started this thread is essentially using the same principles of hydrological restoration to bring back nature.

@cindy, @Johndliu, you should see Olivier’s presentation! Pretty impressive! Olivier, can you post those mind blowing arial heat maps of the projects you’ve worked on dimpled landscape and the cooling effect it has? That single image speaks to the power of such a simple technique!


Here is the latest “Master Class”


AWESOMENESS! Thanks @Johndliu


What you see in the early part of the Webinar … rain for climate … is temperature differentials. Perhaps the most salient discussion on this topic that I have heard. I’ve encountered this in my research and recognized it as very significant but this is a very advanced discussion of the impact with evidence. This is completely relevant for the Western Cape.


Hey folks, here ispart two of the webinar series on water restoration in drought conditions. This is a webinar we did with author Judith Schwartz, and has global examples of water being restored to landscape by good land management practices, along with showing how drought can be reversed.

password: water

we run ecosystem restoration webinars on our site:


Awesome! Thanks Raleigh!



Hey John, why don’t you post the composting toilet hack? I’ll add more info to that and maybe Bernelle and some other sanitation experts can feedback on that. Soil Haiti has had a program like you suggest going on for a long time.


@John , composting toilet advocates - I can copy this over to the composting toilet project when u set it up. This was posted onto Soil Science in Australia by Chad Sentman:

This is probably the most fascinating interdisciplinary discovery I have had since learning about permaculture, and perhaps the most significant discovery I will have for quite some time.

As part of it is relevant to the group, and theoretically you all are interested in the other components as well, I thought I’d post it here for some expert feedback and discussion, but also because my feeling is that this information needs to be widely disseminated. Sorry if anyone feels that this is too off-topic.

I’ve been looking into ecological sanitation and this seems to be the most cutting-edge advanced development in the field. It also utilizes several other components that have deep importance to me.

It’s called Terra Preta Sanitation and here’s how it works:

Urine and feces are separated. Both are lactofermented, urine in a storage container with Lactobacillus/EM, feces in a bokashi-style dry litter container, with Lactobacillus/EM as well as BioChar.

The fermentation of the urine prevents the process in which urine is broken down and nutrients are lost to the atmosphere.

After 30 days, both fermentations are vermicomposted for an additional 30 days (although some recipes call for varying processing time; the longest I’ve seen is nine months).

The combination of anaerobic fermentation and aerobic digestion by compost worms removes pathogenic threats while preserving soil nutrients. The result is Terra Preta soil.

This seems to me to be quite better than other humanure or biolitter toilets, and several degrees better than anything resembling a pit latrine, even urine diverting sorts like Clivis Multrum.

Not technically difficult, and can be implemented at large or small scale, urban or rural, first world or third world.

This has several major positive outcomes that lead to a more sustainable world, including removing valuable nutrients from the waste stream, adding carbon sequestration capacity/water retention/other benefits to the soil, restoring damaged ecosystems, increasing plant health/crop yields, and so on.

I’m not saying it’s a magic bullet, but it’s certainly closer to one than anything else I can think of. And while it shouldn’t be the only tool in your toolbox, I thoroughly believe that no toolbox is complete without it.

I encourage you to look into it and see if you can think of anything that comes close to addressing so many ecological crises of our time as Terra Preta Sanitation. I’d be happy to answer any questions or discuss the finer points.


Hi Cindy,
Thanks Cindy. Probably off topic and needs its own thread. I think Bernelle (@indiebio) can feedback on this, as she deals with alternative ways of dealing with human waste. Look at her website to see the kind of stuff she is doing:

On OSCEdays platform, there was a member, Maike, who had been active in Terra Preta toilets. @Silvia, @Lars2i, do you know if Maike is still on the network?

I had conversations withRalf Otterpohl of TUHH recently regarding waste. He has been leading a lot of research in Terra Preta toilets. He also thinks there may be an opportunity for some large scale shift in the Cape Town context due to the crisis.

But Ralf is actually interested in this Justdiggit and hydrological restoration in general. In a recent email, he says:

"Dear Gien,

This sounds great, so let us push on for getting water resilience for all! My personal interest ist promotion and pre-design of productive catchments, a combination of keylines design / rainwater harvesting with highly productive family farm-clusters. Production must be done with intercropping including agro-forestry and thus build humus and constant vegetation to become huge sponges: Long term resilience sponge catchments. A nice ‘side effect’ is food security. It will create thousands of plesant jobs nd lush landscapes, too: 2 to 4 families per hectar / 1 to 2 per acre. The challange is capacity building, thats why we created and further expand

Kind regards

and in a second email, Ralf says:

"Dear All,

This sounds exiting indeed! If we want to have impact on our still very beautiful planet we must think big! Our role could be capacity building, helping in pre-design, suggestion of suitable crops (including tree crops!) and make a specific online tool together with the partners for local stakeholders including top decision makers (fast and convincing briefings), majors, real NGOs and local companies. A person from my team with family links to SA (he grew up there, too) will be around in your region from summer on for minimum of a year. He is a landscape planner with good job experience. More well trained people would be availabe, too.

Have a look at our, capturinig and infiltrating massive amounts of water (that where flushed off before) in the season after implementation already - next step will be family farms to preserve and produce. Our team is there."


His colleague Joachim Behrendt mentioned Terra Preta toilets:

“Dear James,
thank you very much for the contact to Olivier Maes. Ralf Otterpohl is contacting him for exchange of experience and cooperation.
Now I like to come to the water crisis in Cape Town:
Short term possibilities:
Measures for Water saving
Dry Toilet, Terra Preta Toilet. In South Africa I have got contact with Tim Krause
they are producing good quality
may be you can asked them for producing Terra Preta Toilets Sabine Schober design (winner of the world toilet award 2012 in Durban This toilet system can be implemented very fast.
For the need of flushing toilet you can use low flush toilets like prolelair may be in combination with waterless urinals
To reduce water for shower you can immediately implement water saving shower heads, like bubble rain
Additionally you can use recirculating showers,,
Our institute likes to develop more advanced technologies as well. We talked about the looloop system that can be an element for water saving in combination with grey water treatment. To separate the toilet water from the rest help to implement water recycling technologies. Greywater can be treated biological and a nano-filtration leads to a good quality for tap water (not drinking water).
If you thing in a region, the infiltration of greywater is an option to accumulate water in the
sub-surface water body that can be used for water extraction. This measure should be accompaned with rainwater harvesting to avoid future water crises.
the looloop is mainly for nutrient recycling. The newest publication you can find here: page 579
but only one page
Behrendt, J.; Braun, U.; Gayh, U.; Antholz; M.; Bettendorf, Th.; Otterpohl, R. (2009): Nutrient Recovery and Water Saving with the LooLoop. Pre-conference Workshop 3 International Dry Toilet Conference , 10.-12.08.2009, Tampere, Finland
Braun, U., Lindner, B., Lohmann, T., Behrendt, j. and Otterpohl, R. (2008): The LooLoop-Process: The First “Waterless” Flushing Toilet . In: Efficient Management of Wastewater, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, ISBN 978-3-540-74491-7, 215-225
Antholz, M.; Behrendt, J.; Bettendorf, T.; Braun, U.; Gayh, U.; Otterpohl, R. (2009): Domestic Wastewater Recycling: Toilet-to-toilet and tap-to-tap, instead of toilet-to-tap. gwf Wasser Abwasser International, S1/2009 no link
Please do not hesitate to contacting me for further discussion. Have a nice weekend.
Cordial greetings

This is valuable information in the emails that should be shared with the commons. I just didn’t have time in the organizing of the hackathon to extract all this kind of detail out.


Thanks @Gien At the start of this thread @ John was recommending composting toilets as an integral component for soil amendments for the land and water restoration project.

If you start a new composting toilets thread I’ll copy my post across to there. I don’t want to start it because I’ve already committed into more than enough


If Ralf signs up, maybe best to ask him to start it. Or @Johndliu can start it. I just want to be the one starting all the threads! If you start the thread, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are committed to following through with it. It could be others who take the bull by the horn and implement it.


UN World Water Development 2018 Report: Nature-based Solutions for Water