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Making it work for you: Water Resources Community Model

Water Harvesting at Home by Brad Lancaster

Within our generative landscape, rainwater has become our primary water source, greywater our secondary water source, and municipal groundwater a strictly and infrequently used supplemental source (meeting no more than 5% of our exterior water needs). Most of our established landscape has even become regenerative by thriving on rainwater alone. 

Our household consumes less than 20,000 gallons of municipal water annually, with over 90% of that being recycled in the landscape as greywater. Additionally, we harvest and infiltrate over 100,000 gallons of rain and runoff into the soil of our site (and, by extension, the community's watershed) over the course of our annual average rainfall.

As a household, we’re shifting more and more to living within our rainwater “budget”: the natural limits of our local environment. As a result, we’re enriching the land, growing up to 25% of our food on site, creating a beautiful home and neighborhood environment – and giving back more than we take!

One of our most rewarding recent improvements has been the process of working with our neighbors and the city to replace 26% of the pavement from the corner intersection with a water-harvesting traffic circle planted with native vegetation. We also succeeded in implementing a system that harvests street runoff within curbside mulched basins to grow a greenbelt of trees along the street and sidewalk, so the street now passively irrigates the trees.

As a result, our neighborhood—once the victim of urban blight—is now one of the greenest and most livable areas of the city. My advice to anyone who wants to get started living more sustainably is to start with rainwater-harvesting. Start at the top. Start small. But above all—start!

For more information about Brad Lancaster and rainwater harvesting, visitwww.harvestingrainwater.com


Learn from more Community Models


Before (1994)
Credit: Brad Lancaster

After (2006)
Credit: Brad Lancaster

Education and Resources


City of Tucson Water Harvesting Guidance Manual

Harvesting Water for Landscape Use

Rainwater Harvesting Calculator

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Community Partners


Water CASA (Conservation Alliance of Southern Arizona)

Now in its eleventh year, the Water Conservation Alliance of Southern Arizona (Water CASA) continues to provide a means for member water providers to augment their individual conservation programs and to improve the region's overall water conservation efforts. Today, members include Community Water Company of Green Valley, Flowing Wells Irrigation District, Town of Marana Water Department, Metropolitan Water Domestic Improvement District, Town of Oro Valley Water Department, Pima County, Bureau of Reclamation, the Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District, and our newest member, the Town of Sahuarita.

University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center (WRRC)

A research and extension unit of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the WRRC is the designated state water resources research center established under the 1964 Federal Water Resources Research Act. The WRRC conducts water policy research and analysis, and its information transfer activities include publications, conferences, lectures, and seminars.  Water news and information are provided to the academic community, water professionals, elected and appointed officials, students and the public.  The WRRC is one of four University of Arizona water centers responsible for implementing the Water Sustainability Program, which receives funding from The University of Arizona’s Technology and Research Initiative Fund (TRIF).

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