Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond by Brad Lancaster

The New, Full-Color Editions of the Best-Selling, Award-Winning Books on Harvesting Water — and More

Click here to order

Turn water scarcity into water abundance! These books show you how to conceptualize, design, and implement sustainable water-, sun-, wind-, and shade-harvesting systems for your home, landscape, and community. They enable you to access your on-site resources (rainwater, greywater, topsoil, sun, plants, and more), give you a diverse array of strategies to maximize their potential, and empower you with guiding principles to create an integrated, multi-functional resource-harvesting and -enhancing landscape plan specific to your site and needs. These books will help bring your site to life, reduce your cost of living, endow yourself and your community with skills of self-reliance and cooperation, generate renewable on-site power, and create living air conditioners of vegetation that grow beauty, food, flood-control, and wildlife habitat. Stories of people who are successfully welcoming rain into their life and landscape will invite you to do the same!

The wasteful path to scarcity. This site rapidly dehydrates itself by erosively draining the rain and runoff away. This floods downslope areas and contaminates surface water with sediment. Greywater is lost to the sewer. Costly municipal or well water is pumped in to replace the free water that was drained away. Wells, creeks, and rivers dry. Leaf drop/mulch is also drained away, further depleting fertility and water-holding capacity. Puddles form on compacted, bare earth and evaporate slowly. This all leads to a depletion of resources and feeling scared in the city due to the resulting scarcity. The stewardship path to abundance. This site passively hydrates itself by productively planting the rain with the on-site harvest and infiltration of rainwater and runoff. This reduces downslope flooding and water contamination. Greywater is directed to plants in times of no rain. The need to pump water in is greatly reduced or eliminated. Wells, creeks, and rivers are recharged. Leaf drop/mulch is also harvested and cycled back into the soil and plants, further increasing fertility and water-holding capacity. This all leads to an enhancement of resources and a bun dance of celebration due to the resulting abundance.

Watch Brad’s TEDxTucson talk, Planting the Rain to Grow Abundance:

For more videos, visit this website’s video page.

“Plant the Rain” Caps

Check out Brad Lancaster’s interviews on NPR’s Morning Edition:

Click here to listen to January 10, 2008 interview.
Click here to listen to September 17, 2008 interview.

Listen to Rainwater-Harvesting Songs:

Click to hear:

Rainwater Spiritual, by Gabrielle Pietrangelo of Silver Thread Trio fame
You can purchase and download the song here

Rainwater Song, by Leith Kahl, a.k.a. Desert Rat, Brad’s favorite banjo-playin’, story-tellin’ activist

Harvest Rainwater, by Bradford Trojan, my power-pop/folk, dance-inducing yogi/neighbor. Click here to download the song.

Sing Back the River, a beautiful, bittersweet song by Petey Mesquitey about southern Arizona’s Santa Cruz River which used to flow year-round near downtown Tucson. To hear Petey’s introductory story to the song click here.

Dry River, by Dave Alvin. This video link enables you to hear one version of the song, but I think his best version is Dry River (Live) from his album Interstate City (Live) which he recorded as Dave Alvin & the Guilty Men. The river in the song is the Los Angeles River in Los Angeles, California.

We need more songs to build a smokin’-hot soundtrack to help motivate and lubricate the regenerative movement of working with our neighbors and ecosystems to enhance life and its potential within our communities and throughout our planet. Do you have a song(s) to contribute? If so, please send it to admin@HarvestingRainwater.com. Click here for more songs; we’ll be adding new ones as they come in.

Peruse the bounty of free water-harvesting resources, including:

Water-related rebates and incentive programs in Tucson, Arizona

List of incentives and rebates for Tucson Water’s residential and commercial users, including rebates for rainwater harvesting, greywater harvesting, and high-efficiency toilets.

Rainwater-harvesting rebate, which can pay you up to $2,000 for water-harvesting earthworks or rain gardens (passive strategies), gutters, cisterns or tanks (active rainwater-harvesting systems), and even consulting and design.

Greywater-harvesting rebate, which can pay you up to $1,000 for a greywater-harvesting system installation.

An ordinance requiring commercial landscapes to provide at least 50% of their landscape irrigation needs with rainwater harvested on site.

A Green Streets policy requiring new and reconstructed roadways be designed to harvest the first 1/2 inch (13 mm) of rainfall in order to grow street side and median vegetation. The policy is technically the Tucson Department of Transportation’s “Active Practice Guidelines.” This is a dramatic 180º shift in how our streets and adjoining rights-of-ways are designed and built. In the past, lifeless grey infrastructure of asphalt and concrete drained nearly 100% of the rainfall while generating higher summer temperatures due to the heat-island effect from all the exposed hardscape. Now living green infrastructure is being built and planted along and within the streets to harvest and reinvest nearly all the rainfall and street runoff from a typical storm to generate and grow living air conditioners and water/air/soil filters of beautiful, shading vegetation. Note: The next time this policy is reviewed, I’d like to see if it would be possible to revise the Performance Goal (under section D) which states that “Green Infrastructure basins are designed to accept a maximum final pooling depth of 8 inches,” to allow for deeper, higher-capacity pooling depths to increase capacity.

Study modeling the costs & benefits of Green Infrastructure retrofits in Tucson, AZ

Solving Flooding Challenges with Green Stormwater Infrastructure in the Airport Wash Area
This study utilizes a Holistic Cost Benefit analysis to assess a full range of benefits that would be achieved with a Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) retrofit of residential properties, rights-of-way (ROW), and streets, as well as commercial properties, schools, churches, other community nodes, and their associated parking lots within three built-out watersheds in the south of Tucson. Results from modeling show GSI can have a significant impact on both large and small storm events. GSI resulted in reducing the 100-year 3-hour event peaks in the three watersheds by 24%, 19% and 10%. GSI implemented throughout these watersheds in the 25-year scenario of the study would result in over $2.5 million dollars of annual community benefits as a result of flood reductions, water conservation, property value increases, reduced urban heat island impacts, improved stormwater quality, reduced heating and cooling needs, air quality improvements, and the energy associated with pumping CAP water and groundwater in Tucson. Residential rain gardens, curb-cut rain gardens, and Green Street features have benefit/cost ratios greater than 1 showing that benefits outweigh the costs by 4.4, 2.7, and 2.1 for those features respectively.

Watershed Maps of Tucson, Arizona

Use these to make signs of your Tucson neighborhood’s watershed(s).
See an example of such a sign, made of the Dunbar/Spring Washes and Watersheds.
Check out my blog post, Watershed Maps Are Community Maps.
And take a look at John Wesley Powell’s map of the western United States as he proposed the region be delineated by natural watershed boundaries—not by arbitrary political boundary lines.
Click here and here for different versions of the United Watersheds of America map.

Corrections? Requests? Suggestions? Questions?

Click here to send us a message with corrections, broken-link alerts, requests or suggestions for additions, or other web-content-related correspondence.

Also, please do email us with inquiries about hiring Brad in any capacity; requests for interviews with Brad for print, radio, television, or digital media; paid web-link requests; or other matters which we’re able to prioritize given our current pile of projects—we will respond promptly to discuss the possibility.

However, please know that, given our need to conserve our various resources, we are unlikely to respond to requests for advice, referrals, or pro-bono work. We hope you are able to find helpful advice or referrals on this information-dense website and in Brad’s books. Explore the menus on the left sides of the pages, or try out the search function (below the site menu and in the upper right corner of each page). Or, reach out to and engage your own local experts or community leaders working in integrated sustainable design.

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Upcoming Events

  1. Water Harvesting Design Certification: Tucson, AZ

    February 28, 2022 - March 12, 2022
  2. Land and Water Summit – Albuquerque, NM

    March 2, 2022 - March 4, 2022

Umbrella Newsletter

The Umbrella: Summer 2020

THE UMBRELLA: A catch-all of resources, events, media, and more from Brad Lancaster In this time of Covid-19 and spending more time at home to be safe, I’ve been grateful for the solace, inspiration, and bountiful sustenance my water-harvesting gardens, landscape, and neighborhood forest has provided me, my family, friends, and neighbors. Record summer heat […]

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