Landscape Architecture - Honours

Replenish

Groundwater; a vital resource for both human and non-human systems. As population growth, climate change and socio-economic demands increase, the high dependency and unsustainable extraction rates puts this natural resource in constant risk of depletion. The Sacramento Valley, located in the heart of California, has been chosen to represent this issue of groundwater depletion due to its high agricultural value. As agriculture is the major cause of groundwater depletion, this project puts forward the concept of ‘Regenerative Agriculture’ as the major source of groundwater replenishment.

CONTEXT

The project is based in the Sacramento Valley in California as it is one of the leading countries of groundwater consumption and is a landscape prone to drought and flooding. The design outcomes will not only reflect sustainable water management, but also climate responsive design to establish a resilient landscape.

It is located on California’s major drainage system called the Central Valley, that covers up to 20,000 square miles and is made up of intersecting canals, stream beds, sloughs, marshes, and lakes, with the Pacific Ocean as its only outlet. As the Sacramento Valley is a flat agricultural plain, this area holds significance in producing, storing, distributing and consuming groundwater, thus creating high dependency on this natural resource.

This project aims to replenish Sacramento Valley’s
groundwater system, ultimately restoring the dynamic
resilience of natural and cultural systems

It is not about finding a “absolute” solution, but rather about proposing strategies to reduce water dependency (influenced by current interventions and regenerative agriculture elements) in order to stabilise levels and allow vital water bodies to gradually replenish in the long run.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

This project looks at how agriculture is the leading cause of groundwater depletion, and thus, through the circular economy and non-equilibrium theoretical lenses, how regenerative agriculture can be used as the primary source of groundwater replenishment; ultimately creating a loop hole.

Circular Economy
This framework intends to shift the process of resource usage from a linear to circular process; what humans take out from the environment, they must give back, reuse, or regenerate. Resource circularity is about retaining the quality and signifying the value and product of the resources to influence resilience and interconnectedness between cultural and natural systems.

Non-equilibrium Paradigm
Instead of fighting against flooding and perpetual water pumping, this framework is about understanding that these disturbances will inevitably happen, and therefore incorporate these disturbances as a transformative part of the regenerative process; disturbance will open up opportunities for regeneration. 

STRATEGIC PLAN

A strategic plan is introduced to establish a gradual shift in the landscape and cultural practices. As the chosen landscape is vast, this strategic plan will function as a tool kit and a model of regenerative agriculture where it begins in the Sacramento Valley, and is then expanded to other areas.

The strategic plan will occur in four phases over a 40-year period where it will gradually replenish the landscape. Shown in the video narrative and full report below, four major zones have been chosen to showcase the implementation of this phasing.

SNAPSHOT VIGNETTES

The vignettes act like informative snapshots that demonstrates how the proposed interventions represent regenerative agriculture. It’s about recognising that regenerative agriculture isn’t limited to a single element, but can be applied in a variety of forms, locations and scales.

IRRIGATION

To shift how water can be valued, monitored and repurposed, specific irrigation practices will be instigated. During hot seasons, drip irrigation ensures that a set amount of water is being distributed amongst the crops to create equal application. During cold seasons, where plant growth is limited, flooding irrigation is about purposefully flooding the fields to improve soil fertility and create water infiltration zones into the underground aquifers.

Managed Wetlands

Existing wetlands will be transformed into an active river edge system to promote the growth of fauna and flora, as well as the extension of flood plains and water infiltration. In this area, small ponds and informal pools can form to catch rainwater runoff.

rotational grazing

Livestock is rotated through a series of paddocks as a tactic to improve ground cover, soil/plant health, and reduce reliance on large amounts of water. By dividing the land into multiple paddocks, specific zones can be grazed while others rest, allowing for sustainable crop growth.

Farmers market

To promote a circular economy mindset, a farmers market space will be provided to encourage locals to participate in crop growth, marketing, consumption, and reproduction.

COMMUNITY FARMLAND

Farmland has been set aside for community participation in water-efficient vegetation replanting, fruit picking, local and farmer engagement, and an educational space to learn about groundwater and farming culture.

RESERVOIR AND WATER MONITORING

In the Sacramento Valley, water regulation is currently limited, resulting in unsustainable water extraction rates. By implementing water monitoring, storage, education and distribution zones, this initiates sustainable water management practices.

video narrative

The exhibition piece is a video narrative with animated representations of the story, issue, and design outcomes. Animation plays a key role as it allows an easier way to comparatively display the past, present and future layers; showcasing how the landscape has changed. Audio has been manipulated and layered in order to create the rhythmic atmosphere of the design.

full report

Name
To view project in a more detail, please download here
File Type
application
File Size
5 MB
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Jasmine Solitana

Jasmine is a Landscape Architecture student, minoring in Architectural Design. With her love for art, nature, photography and culture, she strives to portray her passions through her work.