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About The Course

Water is Life, learn how to design water into your property




Price: Early bird $300* / Standard $350

* 3 weeks prior to course commencement


Maximum of 20 places


Earthworks: When thinking about earthworks design the aim is to keep the water as high in a distance and as long in time, in the landscape as possible. Water and the water’s edge is 30 times more productive than land, this is the classical edge effect. Earthworks are the major element in a design.















Students will understand the basic Principles of watershed restoration and Permaculture Design in Earthworks.

Reading the landscape, interpreting contour maps and using surveying tools, and placing elements in a design.


Students will leave the course and be able to understand the terminology for Earthworks and Soil Water


Time & Location

16 Mar, 9:00 am – 17 Mar, 5:00 pm

Doc Spice Permaculture, 1583 Gocup Rd, Minjary  Tumut NSW 2720, Australia







  • Understanding landscape forms and erosion patterns

  • How to read a contour map

  • What techniques to apply where 

  • Hard surface run-off, what is it? and how do we design it into soakages and or storages i.e dams ponds 

  • How to Calculate catchment area's and runoff volume

  • Practical activities surveying out  water harvesting earthworks 

  • Excavator on-site

  • Muscle memory learning to anchor the new information




Barrage/valley dam, consist of constructing a compacted earth wall across the valley.


Keypoint dam is the same as a barrage dam but much higher in the landscape constructed so the high water mark is at the key point of the valley, it is the most economical dam to build; also using the natural lay of the land to harvest water.


Contour dam is as the name suggests it is constructed on a contour of a usually gentle country with interlinking swales or diversion drains to fill the dam.


Ridge point dams are constructed at the end of a ridge usually it’s the highest dam on a farm.


Saddle dam is similar to a ridge point but much cheaper to construct as there is less earthmoving required it consists of constructing 2 walls either side of the saddle on the ridge.


Turkey’s nest or ring dam is mainly constructed on the flat country as an open earth tank for either flood irrigation or water storage for stock.

Dam sealing


Sealing of problematic dams that are leaking, with gleying, manurial pugs or bentonite.




Dam wall and spillway repair and retrofits


Often exiting dam walls don’t have enough freeboard and the spillways are badly placed, it’s really a simple matter of raising the wall height and fitting back flood swale and a level sill spillway.


Minor land forming for benches, house/shed sites, terraces etc.


Weather your retrofitting or building new infrastructure installing gardens there is always minor earthworks to be done.




Level-sill-spillways, the most passive way to discharge water.




Diversion drains


A maximum fall of 1m in 400m or less, for every meter it falls 2.5mm which is hardly perceptible but enough to make water move to a point usually storage point e.g. Dam/pond but not fast enough to erode or carry sediments.



Roads as water harvesters


Roads can cause erosion and concentrate the overland flow of rain events to culverts/pipes where the water speeds up when forced through the pipe coursing more erosion.


But they can be a great source of hardware to harvest water from. In farm roads where possible we can design roads with a 1m in 400m fall to harvest water to charge dams, we can get multiple functions from a road, ease of access, water harvesters, fire breaks ect.


About the trainers


Danial and David have worked in the permaculture education field for close to 20 years and have seen the need become more apparent for a course to skill people on the ground, in the basics. They have both worked on large permaculture earthworks hydrology projects within Australia and overseas, including both operation and instruction.


Danial and David are a dynamic team with many years of knowledge and practical experience between them, and each with their own charismatic teaching style, making them a teaching duo that is a pleasure to learn from.


When we understand earthworks hydrology on a macro and micro level we can apply it to the urban built environments, from stormwater catchment to raised beds on contour for main crop production, and water harvesting and storage on a large scale for farm use. Water and the water’s edge is 30 times more productive than land, having the classic edge effect. When thinking about earthworks design the aim is to keep the water as high and as long in distance and time in the landscape as possible. Earthworks are major elements in design; we are always starting with water in any design.




Work boots, Hat, Water bottle, Wet weather gear, Ear and eye protection, Notebook and pen and Sunscreen.


hope to see you there.




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