Every monastic community required a reliable
water supply for washing, cooking and brewing, to power the mills
and to remove waste from the site. Fountains Abbey was ideally situated
in the valley of the Skell. The River Skell and the springs surrounding
the valley could be exploited by the community to bring water to
the site and establish a drainage system. However, it was not enough
simply to have a source of water nearby. Water management meant
working with nature, to make quality water available in some places,
and to provide a strong current in others, for example, to power
mills and remove waste. Water management also meant removing water
from where it was not needed, whether this was rainwater that might
cause flooding, waste water from the kitchens, or waste products.
This could be a highly complex process, which involved skilful engineering.
Unfortunately the water supply system at Fountains is not yet fully
understood, and requires thorough archaeological excavation. (24)