New Technology: Solar Powered Water Pumping

So much technology remodels natural processes. Current water use regimes pour water on the surface of the soil and watch it sink in. Natural processes also bring water to the surface. The water surface is a kind of lung. But there’s more. Natural water processors draw water high above the surface of the soil. Like this Italian lady …

Lombardy Poplar

In fact, trees can draw water hundreds of feet vertically. Lots of water. In excess of a 1000 litres a day, each.


Perhaps the Okanagan’s Highest Ponderosa Pine

Drawing water from a hilltop into the sky.

Trees do this by using the power of the sun and the molecular bonds of water. The surface tension that allows a water strider to stand on top of the water …


Water Strider in the Rain

See how the surface tension of the water converts the energy of a raindrop into wave forms, without splashing or breaking the water’s surface?

… also turns it into something like high-tensile steel if it is in columns or piping of exactly the right dimension, such as you find within a device such as this…


Douglas Fir and Ancestral Rock, Ellison Provincial Park, Okanagan Lake

The sun draws water through the first leaves, which then pulls it up through the fine piping of the tree. It starts like this …p1180657 … and becomes like this …

P1100519… or even this …

P1050897Choke Cherry and Deer

Note the flat plane gravity water collector just above the tree pump (the yellow-flowered mustard).

A humanly-engineered pump can lift water no more than 32 feet, due to the weight of the atmosphere. Trees have no such problem. They can lift it from roots fifty feet below the soil to branch tips a hundred feet or more above. Surely there is a way to use all this energy and this ability to lift water great distances and to use the natural processes by which trees make this possible, to pump water from underground clouds and fogs not only to the surface, but uphill, and even to use it in a series of stages to go, say, from the wetlands in the valley bottom (or any point in between) to the tops of the hills …

P1230776First Snow, Turtle Mountain

After all, the trees are doing it all the time. In this way, the 18 inches of water that fall on this land every year can be used over and over and over again, powered by the sun and gravity and the particular molecular energies of water. What one needs is a solar collector (leaves), a capturing mechanism (roots), piping in between (xylem and phloem) …

250px-Stem-cross-section2Plant Water Transport Systems, Source

… and some form of water collection technology. This is entirely within human technology capacity. After all, we do it all the time, in a similar but more energy hungry process, that looks like this…

800px-Anacortes_Refinery_31911Anacortes, Washington Oil Refinery Source

Crude oil is separated using heat, evaporation and pressure into various grades of petroleum products. 

Here’s another kind of technology that should provide ideas …

Krone-Schnaps-0045Eau de Vie Still, Germany Source

Again: heat, upward movement of water, condensation, collection. This can be repeated.

And another source of inspiration for the development of this technology (there is more than one path to the waterfall, so to speak)…


Solar Farm

Electrons trickling across a barrier and collecting into a flow of current. That is not that much different than transporting water through harnessing the electron bonds between water molecules (water tension). Other extrapolations of photoysnthesis should be able to do much the same.

And don’t forget medieval technology …

gmill1The Grist Mill, Keremeos Source.

A waterwheel powered from above can also lift water from below. Like here:

bautzen_wahrzeichen_1Alte Wasser Kunst, Bautzen, Saxony

It lifts water 47 metres by water power and cleverness alone. It ran until 1965, when it was retired. It was still working.

We are close. Small or large or both, using trees or artificial substitutes, we can move water wherever we want. We can do it in individual trees (or devices) …

p1010529Young Ponderosa Pine, Okanagan Landing

100 metres above Okanagan Lake.

… or in vast plantations, to shift water in large patterns (forests) …


Eskers, Big Bar Lake

.. which would then be delivered to gravity reservoirs …


Enloe Irrigation Reservoir, Similkameen River

… or delivered back to the valley as rain …


… or fog …


Fog can be collected, too.

Let’s remember: Indians were created by a colonial misunderstanding that there were something like 500 separate peoples living in North America; Whites were created through the same misunderstanding; the idea that the West is a desert was created through the same misunderstanding. It is not a desert. We can have enormous volumes of water if we live with the land rather than against it. I would expect that the other social divides would dissolve at the same time. Environmental health is social health. To start, we need some clever technology, as clever as this…

trailsDeer Trail and Ponderosa Pine Working the Edge of a Syncline Slope

… and as joyful as the tree behind the goof in the orange shirt here …

humanHarold When His Hiking Boots Were Still New, Cape Scott, Vancouver Island

This blog has worn the soles away. They squeak. You can always hear him coming now.

Next I will talk about herbs for the Okanagan, and then I will get into the other tech that could be developed out of close observation of this land at work. Right now, I’m going camping in the hills.

Over to you.

6 replies »

  1. It is a lovely journey
    a walking and flying in the same time
    over this earth where we believe everything is create for US!

    reading and watching what you offered us, we see the other Truth

    arts of nature and the science of us
    are the same as stay our arts to nature:

    trying to arrive to the Great Model,
    or as your words among/between the beautiful and clever photos…

    It was a kind tourney, but thoughtful and a lot of concerns
    were flying around us, and this is the other success of your project…

    Congratulations, Harold

    Faruk Myrtaj


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