Smallholders could do worse than construct a round dam (reservoir) to fulfill their water needs.

The importance of being able to store water on your smallholding, whether it is used for drinking water for human and livestock consumption, irrigation of commercial crops or vegetable gardens, fish farming, processing or any other purpose, is vital for success.

However, the cost of a dam for the collection of water is usually quite prohibitive for many plot dwellers.

But, one might consider an above-ground structure. The ARC has written a manual for the building of a dam of this type. Materials used include treated timber poles, galvanised, welded wire mesh, unwoven polyester cloth (also called geotextile), and multi-purpose rubberised waterproofing sealant in liquid form.

Construction of the dam is simple and can easily be done by the smallholder with own labour in a very short time, without any specialised knowledge.

Sizing your round dam

You will need to calculate how regularly your dam will be filled, what your consumption will be during that period, where and how you source the water, and how strong the source proves to be.

Once your volume and usage has been determined, you can calculate the diameter. The ARC manual includes a useful formula to size your dam. The manual is available for purchase for R40.

The manual is simple and easy to use. It covers a description of the dam, size, list of materials, construction in terms of preparation of the terrain, measuring of the dam, planting of timber poles, installation of the outlet pipe, erection of the wire mesh, placing of the lining, application of the sealant, application of paint to the exterior and also maintenance of the dam.

The manual is also available in Afrikaans.

To order your copy contact Elmarie Stoltz on 012 842 4017 or e-mail

Main image: Tata Ma Tarps & Linings

This is part of a series on Dams & Fish. For more, click here.

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