Growing up in Arkansas, we knew where our water came from. A plastic pipe allowed water to gravity flow from a nearby spring to a concrete water tank next to our house. Overflow from the spring formed a creek which we dammed to form a seven acre pond that we used to supply water for irrigation, livestock, fishing, and swimming.
Our system was simple. When rainfall was low, the flow from the spring was less and the pond levels dropped, and we knew that we had to conserve.