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Huehuetortuga, Morelos, Mexico

Summary: A consulting job involving intertwined water, wastewater, energy systems and landscaping in an interesting, extreme environment.

Overview of Huehuecoyotl eco village


"Art Ludwig's design work at the Huehuecoyotl community in Tepoztlan, Morelos has increased our water security, improved the quality of the water and, through intelligent water reuse systems, made possible year-round gardening in a place with an 8-month dry season. In the case of my personal residence, I watched with awe and admiration as Art doggedly tackled one seemingly insurmountable problem after another to create systems which are reliable, repairable, innovative and elegant. His passion for finding truly ecological solutions is matched by his ability to convince skeptics and nay-sayers to try something new."

-Beatrice Briggs, yoga instructor, consensus facilitator trainer

Bea in Huehuetortuga gray water garden.

Overview of eco demonstration home at eco village

Huehue tortuga

Project site: Huehuetortuga (the old, old turtle) a new landholding added to the ecological arts community of Huehuecoyotl (the old, old coyote). Elevation: 2100 m (7000 ft) Average Rainfall: zero for eight months, 1.4 m (four feet eight inches) in four months (!) Water supply during dry season: None; storage only (well, they can truck water in). Subsystems: rain water harvesting, surface water diversion, efficient fixtures, four greywater systems, constructed wetland, edible landscaping, composting toilet, solar hot water, hydro electric power, solar energy…

African dance class at Huehuecoyotl

African dance class at huehue

Water diversion pool in dry season.
Dry Season

Water diversion pool built at the bottom of a waterfall.
Wet Season

Some elements of the design

New inventions (things I came up with which I have never seen or heard of before) in this project


Low maintenance, high effectiveness water diversion filter
Infinitely variable natural water diversion control

Integrated siphon starting funnel, bottom inlet/ filter on below grade rain water storage.

Easy start, long duration siphon with integral check valve, funnel, air relief, dissolved gas and air reservoir (parts of the house plumbing are under negative pressure!)

Inside of well-made water storage tank showing outlet level control, float valve.

Cistern outlet controls (to prevent catastrophic water loss)

A forever hot bath tub heated by a propane cooktop underneath.

Forever hot propane bathtub

Ferro cement multi modal grey water tank under construction.

Multi-modal greywater tank (stationary hose, moved hose, moving hose with valve, buckets; in order of increasing effort and reuse efficiency)

Ferro cement multi modal gray water tank showing how bucket can easily scoop it dry.

The advantage of the odd shape is twofold. First, in all modes, fall is conserved. Second, in bucketing mode, the shape of the curve exactly matches the shape of a five gallon bucket, so you can scoop out the last bucketfull in two or three passes, compared to dozens of passes for a regular shaped tank.

Gray water tank incorporated in outside wall of house, showing gray water hose and bucket below.Here's a multi-modal tank for a situation with adequate fall (greywater comes from 2nd story bathroom). Tank is built into side of house. The water is currently running out the hose, but the bucket can also be filled from the red handled valve. The floor of the tank is funnel-shaped to avoid accumulation of solids. In the floor of the bucket filling area is a drain which leads to the fruit tree and mulch basin in the foreground.

Also, Permanent house plumbing under vacuum (to siphon water from a cistern), Ultra low flow, low pressure shower head (1/4 gpm at 1" of pressure, 1/6 of normal low flow shower head flow and 1/100th of pressure requirement)

Nice designs but definitely or probably not new..

Large rain water cistern with roof wings to increase cistern roof catchment area.

Cistern-top rainwater harvesting

Rat and mosquito proof, high capacity rain catchment cistern overflow.

Mosquito and rat proof but non-plugging rainwater cistern overflow (four inch swing check valve)

Copper gutters lead to a roof washer in a rain water harvesting system in Mexico.

Bench roof washer with variable washing quantity (for diverting first flush of dusty roof from rain harvesting)

Rain water harvesting filter

Low maintenance, high effectiveness water diversion filter (dry season)Self-cleaning overflow at diversion pool.Improved filtration, sanitation, ease of maintenance and management, and much higher capacity and control at existing runoff-fed waterfall diversion.
(filtration by settling, overflow which is auto-flushing at both low & high levels, and by large area screen filters at lower and upper outlets; sanitation by sloping wall away from storage and enabling easy, complete draining for frequent cleaning/purging of mosquito larvae, ease of management through greatly reduced clogging, and control by allowing complete flexibility to for continuously variable diversion amounts between 0-500 lpm, with or without the 27 m3 of storage serving as a flywheel to even out the highly variable flow for the hydroelectric plant).

Stone water storage cistern.

Automatic storage topping-off during season of free water (monsoon)

A mini constructed wet land handles effluent from two toilets in Mexico.

Miniature ferrocement constructed wetland

Also… Engineered water hammer relief, Automatically solids and air purging water lines Storage flywheel for easy hydroelectric power generation from extremely variable source, with accurate gauge to show flywheel storage level remotely High efficiency shower enclosure w/ bucket bathing provision "Split drain to mulch basins" greywater system Sliding diverter valve for greywater system Improved, clog resistant water registers Workshop shelf/box organizer system State-of the art septic tank …

Pelton wheel for mico hydro-electric power.

Runoff only micro hydro turbine for rainy days