Volume 1 Resources, expanded
These resources expand on those listed in appendix 6 – Resources from Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 3rd Edition.
In its beginning sections, this list provides general rainwater-harvesting sources, then follows the topical order in Volume 1’s Introduction and Chapters 1 through 4. Sections O through X provide helpful permaculture, community, government, and funding resources.
Note on website URLs: Almost all URLs listed below (or the organization from which a downloadable document is available) are resources in and of themselves.
Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Vol. 1, 3rd Edition: Guiding Principles, by Brad Lancaster, 2019. Rainsource Press.
Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Vol. 2, 2nd Edition: Water-Harvesting Earthworks, by Brad Lancaster, 2020. Rainsource Press.
City of Tucson Water Harvesting Guidance Manual, edited by Ann Audrey. A great guidance manual providing basic information and design ideas for developers, engineers, designers, and contractors of commercial sites, public buildings, subdivisions, and public rights-of-way. Available online:
Stormwater as a Resource: How to Harvest and Protect a Dryland Treasure, by David Morgan and Sandy Trevathan. A collaboration between the City of Santa Fe and the College of Santa Fe, 2002. This booklet is a brief, clear, and concise guide for harvesting rain and snow on your property. Available from:
Design for Water: Rainwater Harvesting, Stormwater Catchment, and Alternate Water Reuse, by Heather Kinkade-Levario. New Society Publishers, 2007. Focuses on rainwater harvesting in an urban environment. Many illustrations and case studies.
A Water Harvesting Manual for Urban Areas: Case Studies from Delhi, from the Centre for Science and Environment, 2000. A very accessible guide encouraging community and household-based water harvesting in India.
Making Water Everybody’s Business: Practice and Policy of Water Harvesting, edited by Anil Agarwal, Indira Khurana, and Sunita Narain. Centre for Science and Environment, 2001.
Dying Wisdom: Rise, Fall, and Potential of India’s Traditional Water Harvesting Systems, edited by Anil Agarwal and Sunita Narain. Centre for Science and Environment, 1997.
The Negev: The Challenge of a Desert, 2nd ed., by Michael Evenari, Leslie Shanan, and Naphtali Tadmor. Harvard University Press, 1982. A study of ancient and recreated water harvesting and runoff agriculture in the Negev desert.
The Collection of Rainfall and Runoff in Rural Areas, by Arnold Pacey and Adrian Cullis. Practical Action Publishing (formerly Intermediate Technology Publications), 1986. A dry, but informative resource with a worthy emphasis on recognizing local needs and utilizing local resources.
Harvesting Rainwater for Landscape Use, 2nd ed., by Patricia H. Waterfall and Christina Bickelmann. Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Arizona, 2004. Good basic guide with calculations for estimating water needs of landscape vegetation. Available online:
Slow it. Spread it. Sink it!: A Homeowner’s and Landowner’s Guide to Beneficial Stormwater Management, Southern Sonoma County Resource Conservation District and The Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County. Sonoma Valley Groundwater Management Program, 2010. This publication comprises chapters on Understanding and Evaluating Stormwater Runoff Around Your Home, Best Management Practices for Stormwater Around the Home, Difficult Sites and Site Constraints, Local Projects, and a Resources Guide. Available online at:
Online Resources (in addition to above)
Images, Video, Audio, Drops in a Bucket Blog, Financial Incentives, Materials, Suppliers, Designers, Installers, Books, and much more.
Doug Pushard’s website is a great resource, nationwide and beyond.
This site belongs to the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), one of India’s leading environmental NGO’s. Although its primary focus is on rainwater harvesting in India, there is much information pertinent to rainwater harvesting around the globe.
“Harvest of Rain,” Centre for Science and Environment, 1995. Traditional water harvesting systems of India are featured in this 48-minute video.
(Introduction) Water Issues and Protecting the Right to Clean Water for All Citizens of the Earth (including Wildlife)
Killing the Hidden Waters: Slow Destruction of Water Resources in the American Southwest, by Charles Bowden. University of Texas Press, 1977. A well-written book on how various cultures in the U.S. Southwest have decided to use our water and other resources, and what effect that has had on the people and the environment.
Keepers of the Spring: Reclaiming Our Water in an Age of Globalization, by Fred Pearce. Island Press, 2004. An excellent resource documenting both the mistakes of inappropriate western engineering schemes that make fresh water scarcer, and the successes of indigenous traditional water harvesting schemes that lead to fresh water abundance.
Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, by Marc Risner. Penguin Books, 1993. A very well-written book on water policy, politics, and use in the American West. A video series based on the book is also available.
Water Follies: Groundwater Pumping and the Fate of America’s Fresh Waters, by Robert Glennon. Island Press, 2002. A great book on the consequences of our country’s growing dependence on our dwindling groundwater resources.
Desert Waters: From Ancient Aquifers to Modern Demands, by Nancy R. Laney. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 1998. A good, concise publication on our water situation in the Southwest with tips on how to reduce our water use.
Blue Gold: The Global Water Crisis and the Commodification of the World’s Water Supply, by Maude Barlow. International Forum on Globalization Special Report, 1999. This is a very clear and concise report on the state of our fresh water resources and how we can protect and enhance them. Abstract and download information available at:
Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water, by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke. The New Press, 2002. An important book on the world’s growing fresh-water crisis, the corporate assault on the water “commons,” and how ordinary citizens all over the world are taking back control, becoming the “keepers” of the fresh-water systems in their localities.
Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water by Maude Barlow. The New Press, 2007. Maude’s most up-to-date look at the global water crisis and its impact on the human and natural world.
Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity, by Sandra Postel. Worldwatch Institute, 1997. A great book looking at the mismanagement of the world’s water resources, and how we can promote more sustainable use of that water through conservation and a water ethic.
Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit, by Vandana Shiva. South End Press, 2002. An excellent book examining the international water trade, damming, mining, and aquafarming, Shiva exposes the destruction of the earth and the disenfranchisement of the world’s poor as they are stripped of their right to a precious common good.
Water Conscious: How We All Have to Change to Protect Our Most Critical Resource. Edited by Tara Lohan. Independent Media Institute, 2008. A solution-focused guide to the global water crisis, with inspiring essays from leading thinkers and activists.
“Troubled Waters,” by Sandra Postel. The Sciences (March/April 2000). A look at the world’s fragile supply of fresh water.
YES! A Journal of Positive Futures, no. 28, Winter 2004. This issue is devoted to water issues including access to fresh water as a human right, protecting watersheds, indigenous water conservation, and more.
The World’s Water, 2004-2005, The Biennial Report on Freshwater Resources, by Peter Gleick. Island Press, 2005. Gives a global overview of water use with use by country, dams by country, etc.
Food & Water Watch is an international offshoot of the national non-profit public-interest organization, Public Citizen, and works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume are safe, accessible and sustainably produced.
“Flow: How Did a Handful of Corporations Steal Our Water?” Oscilloscope Pictures, 2008. Excellent film documenting local and global water right issues along with community efforts reclaiming their rights and enhancing their water resources with rainwater harvesting.
“Blue Gold: World Water Wars,” PBS, 2008.
Heart of Dryness: How the Last Bushman Can Help Us Endure the Coming Age of Permanent Drought, by James G. Workman. Walker & Company, 2009. A great, page-turner of a book documenting the Bushmen’s fight to continue their traditional way of life in the dry Kalahari, the Botswanan government’s attempts to destroy that way of life, and what we can learn from it all.
The Secret Knowledge of Water: Discovering the Essence of the American Desert, by Craig Childs. Sasquatch Books, 2000. A wonderful book about the author’s endless search for water in the desert. Incredible adventures lead to his discovery that the desert is nothing but water.
The Desert Smells Like Rain, by Gary Paul Nabhan. North Point Press, 1982. A graceful and humane tour of the Tohono O’ Odham and how they live in the beautiful Sonoran desert.
Cultures of Habitat: On Nature, Culture, and Story, by Gary Paul Nabhan. Counterpoint, 1997. A wonderful book celebrating how people and nature can coexist and enhance one another.
Dry: Life Without Water, by Ehsan Masood and Daniel Schaffer. Harvard University Press, 2006. Human and wildlife’s innovations to live in arid and semi-arid regions.
Online Water Facts
What Renters Can Do to Harvest Water, Sun, Shade, Wind, and More
You don’t need to own property to engage with, harvest, and enhance your local resources. Here are some ideas, many of which are also featured in my blog entry on the topic:
Note: References to chapters and appendices are to those in the book Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 3rd Edition.
When specified, “Volume 2” refers to the book Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 2.
Deepen your knowledge and experience NOW!
– Get outside into the flows of rain, wind, sun, and shade to observe and experience their characteristics, directions, force, effect, and how they change at different times and seasons.
– Hike in nature to see how life has adapted to local conditions. Learn about and identify local plants, wildlife, soils, and geology.
– Seek out and visit sites to see how people are (or were, at historic sites) harvesting and enhancing water, sun, shade, wind, and more—especially the if harvests are integrated and regenerative. Ask: What works (worked), and enhances the environment? What doesn’t (didn’t)? How could the harvests be carried out in a more regenerative way?
– Attend presentations, classes, and workshops. Read related books. Ask questions.
– Help out and volunteer at sites doing this work—at friends’ or family’s places, schools, houses of worship, parks, neighborhood rights-of-way, or with organizations working to change policy.
– Seek to rent properties already harvesting water, sun, shade, wind, and more. Inform property owners that you want this, so they realize the market is demanding it. Refer them to Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, www.HarvestingRainwater.com and other resources if they request more information.
If you have access to a yard:
– Talk to the landowner about creating a simple, small water-harvesting earthwork or raingarden. If things go well, inquire about expanding or try the strategies below.
– Build the water-harvesting sponge by leaving a mulch of organic matter (such as fallen leaves) under plants, rather than removing it. If you prune a plant, cut up the trimmings and spread them out on the ground below the plant. Water-harvesting basins do a wonderful job collecting and holding this mulch in place.
– Start composting to further enhance the sponge. If you don’t have access to a yard, compost under your sink in a worm bin. If already experienced at composting, try a compost toilet. Site-built bucket (humanurehandbook.com) or barrel systems (www.omick.net/composting_toilets/barrel_toilet.htm) work great if you have yard space or a community composting space for the composting process.
– In terms of harvesting rainwater in a tank, do the calculations in chapter 2 and appendix 3 to determine your ideal tank size. Stop there unless you really have a need for the volume of rainwater you calculated could be collected in a tank suited to your roof. If the need does exist (perhaps you need to irrigate a vegetable garden), consider installing a lightweight, potable-water-grade, polyethylene plastic tank (in accordance with the Nine Cistern System Principles in chapter 3) which you can take with you if you move.
– Start using greywater-compatible soaps, body products, and detergents to see which you like. See Soap & Detergent Info section on the Greywater Harvesting page at www.HarvestingRainwater.com for tips.
– Put a plastic tub in the rinse basin of your kitchen sink in which you can collect greywater that you can carry to potted plants or outside plantings.
– Shower with a bucket at your feet in which you can capture the water run while you’re waiting for it to get hot, and much of your shower greywater before it gets to the drain. Use that water to flush the toilet by pouring the water into the toilet bowl (not its tank) when you want to flush it). Or carry that water to potted plants or outdoor plantings.
– If you have access to a yard, set up a simple outdoor shower, such as a hose over a branch of a tree under which you can shower in hot summer months.
– If in a climate where the washing machine can be placed outdoors under a roofed area, direct its greywater to the landscape as described in the greywater chapter of volume 2.
Water conservation (in addition to strategies above)
– Install and utilize a low-flow shower head if there is not already one in place. This also saves hot water and the energy it takes to heat it.
Sun and Shade
– Seek out an apartment or workspace with good-to-ideal solar orientation and equator-facing awnings or overhangs. See Integrated Design Patterns One and Two in chapter 4.
– If in a multi-story building, see if you can get an equator-facing balcony for useable outdoor space.
– Note that a unit between east- and west-facing units will likely have lower utility bills since the neighbors to the east and west will be paying to heat and cool their space and your shared wall.
– Open all curtains and blinds of equator-facing windows during sunny winter days, and close them on winter nights.
– Open windows before turning on a heating or cooling system when outside conditions allow. Indoor and outdoor thermometers help (fig. 5.17).
– Dry your clothes on a clothesline or drying rack as opposed to using a clothes dryer.
– Borrow, make, or buy a solar oven—and use it.
– Put up shade sails or shade screens (such as exterior window blinds) in summer, take ‘em down in winter.
– If you have access to a yard or adjoining public right-of-way, see if the planting of a tree(s) could enhance or form part of a solar arc that would not block ideal winter sun access (see Integrated Design Patterns Three and Five in chapter 4). If so, talk to the landowner or neighborhood about helping plant that tree(s) within or beside a water-harvesting earthwork.
– Select an apartment or workspace with operable windows and screen doors, ideally with openings to the exterior on at least two different walls of each room to enhance cross-ventilation potential (and multi-directional daylight) when needed (see appendix 8).
Enhance Health While Reducing Carbon Emissions and Other Pollution (in addition to strategies above)
– Walk and bicycle whenever you can. If those are not viable options, then look to public transport before driving. Resources such as www.WalkScore.com and the Walk Score app are great for finding apartments, schools, and job sites well-suited to this.
-There are more ideas in the resources section at the end of my blog post “Human-Empowered, Enlightened, and Energized Transport,” at www.harvestingrainwater.com/2011/07/20/human-empowered-enlightened-and-energized-transport-2.
– Advocate for more walkable and bikeable infrastructure and polices along with better public transport. See www.LivingStreetsAlliance.org.
– Telecommute or Skype rather than traveling to meet.
– Eat locally raised, organic food. Grow some of your own, even if it is just herbs in pots on your window sill.
– Eat less meat.
– Modify yourself before you turn on an air conditioner or heater. Wear shorts and sandals in summer; wear socks, slippers, long johns, and/or sweaters in winter.
– If using a heater or air conditioner, use a single room heater or air conditioner where people most often congregate, instead of using a central heater or air conditioner that regulates temperatures in all the interior spaces (most of which are unoccupied most of the time). The idea here is to heat or cool people rather than empty space.
– Buy renewable green power, and frequent businesses that do the same. Either rent a place with on-site renewable power production, contact your power utility to see if you can purchase renewable power from them (may cost slightly higher than their non-renewable power), or invest in a regional community solar or wind, project, cooperative, or collective.
– See appendix 9 for more ideas.
– Learn about local, wild/cultivated food and medicinal plants from books, local botanical gardens, permaculturalists, naturalists, ethnobotanists, primitive-skills enthusiasts, plant walks, and appendix 4.
– Try harvesting from and utilizing those plants, ideally with someone already knowledgeable in these practices.
– Plant more of these multi-use plants within or beside water-harvesting earthworks—especially where their water needs will be met by on-site water sources (chapter 2 and appendix 4) and their shade will provide on-site needs for summer shade and winter sun access (chapter 4).
– Graft food-bearing stock onto existing ornamental fruit trees (see GuerrillaGrafters.org).
The Water Harvester: Episodes from the Inspired Life of Zephaniah Phiri, by Mary Witoshynsky. Weaver Press, 2000.
If you’d like to support the great work of this grassroots project write to:
Introduction to Permaculture, by Bill Mollison. Tagari Publications, 1988. A smaller, more readable version of Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual, without the drylands emphasis.
Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual, by Bill Mollison. Tagari Publications, 1988. The permaculture Big Book with a good emphasis on drylands, and an even better emphasis on how to incorporate water harvesting into an efficient, holistic system.
Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd edition, by Toby Hemenway. Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2009. While not drylands-specific, this book clearly describes how you can work the integrated design of permaculture into your backyard garden and landscape.
Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, by David Holmgren. Holmgren Design Services, 2002. A more cerebral and very worthwhile book based on the co-originator of permaculture’s extensive practical experience, which allows for a deeper understanding of permaculture concepts.
Permaculture: Inspiration for Sustainable Living
Permaculture Design Magazine. For subscription information:
“Global Gardener,” Bullfrog Films, 1991. Travel the world to see how permaculture approaches to sustainable agriculture have turned wastelands into food forests in the Tropics, Drylands, Cool Climates, and the Urban environment. Order from:
P.O. Box 149
Oley PA 19547
“How’s My Waterway,” a website of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Here you can locate the regional watershed of which your town or site is a part, and get information about that watershed, though this website lacks the detail to show you the boundaries of smaller watersheds.
Watershed Maps are Community Maps
A blog post on community watershed mapping and potential
Maps and Aerial Photographs
USGS Mapping Resources
United States Geological Survey (USGS) topographic contour maps, often called “topo maps,” can be very helpful in determining watershed boundaries since they illustrate the changing elevation of a landscape. Visit their website below and either use the search box or click on Map Locator.
You can often obtain detailed paper or digital topo maps, or aerial photos with superimposed contour lines, from government agencies. The departments of transportation, mapping, or flood control are usually good places to start.
Sustainable by Design’s USA Climate Data for about 250 U.S. cities
Info includes: cloud cover, degree days (heating and cooling), freezing days, humidity, precipitation (amount, days, snow), sunshine, temperature (average highs and lows, record high and low), wind (average and maximum speed)
This is the Western Region Headquarters page of the United States National Weather Service’s website. Locate the weather stations closest to your site and find out their elevations. Download data from those stations that are most like your site.
Arizona Meteorological Network. Evaporation rates, prevailing winds, soil temperatures, and minimum/maximum temperatures are listed for various sites. For other states contact your local agricultural extension service for similar meteorological networks.
The U.S. National Forest Service compiles data for remote weather stations, though the data is not as comprehensive nor standardized as the above two resources. However, for rural sites a Forest Service weather station may be closer to a given site than one monitored by other agencies.
Local airports, since they collect and record climatic data.
Rain gauge from a hardware or garden store with which to begin keeping precipitation records for your site.
Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Vol. 2: Water-Harvesting Earthworks, by Brad Lancaster. Rainsource Press, 2020. This is a thorough guide describing how to create and use diverse water-harvesting earthworks and their numerous variations. Many case studies are featured along with tips on how to integrate your earthworks with multiple on-site resources and challenges so they do far more than harvest water. Includes a chapter on integrating the harvest of greywater.
A Guide for Desert and Dryland Restoration: New Hope for Arid Lands by David A. Bainbridge, Island Press, 2007. Very thorough guide on dryland restoration with simple and effective strategies.
An Introduction to Erosion Control, by Bill Zeedyk and Jan-Willem Jansens. Earth Works Institute, Rio Puerco Management Committee, Quivira Coalition, May 2004. Basic how-to guide for simple and effective erosion control strategies that harvest soil and water. Download for free on publications page of: www.QuiviraCoalition.org
Let the Water Do the Work: Induced Meandering, an Evolving Method for Restoring Incised Channel, Bill Zeedyk and Van Clothier, Quivira Coalition, 2014. THE induced-meandering book, along with great info on one-rock dams, Zuni bowls, and more.
Water Harvesting from Low-Standard Rural Roads by Bill Zeedyk, Quivira Coalition, 2006. Very useful book explaining how to turn the liability of erosive roads into a stable water-harvesting asset.
Free download (pdf)
Drylands Watershed Restoration: Introductory Workshop Activities, by Ben Haggard. Sol y Sombra Foundation, 1994. A wonderful, albeit hard-to-find resource about water harvesting earthworks and how you can set up workshops on the subject.
Erosion Control Field Guide, by Craig Sponholtz (Drylands Solutions) and Avery C. Anderson (Quivira Coalition).
Free download (pdf)
“Dynamic Water Storage,” by Tim Murphy. Permaculture Drylands Journal, #30, summer 1998, pp. 22–24.
Alternative Irrigation: The Promise of Runoff Agriculture, by Christopher J. Barrow. Earthscan, 1999. An introduction to strategies of runoff agriculture used around the world.
Rain Gardens: Managing Water Sustainably in the Garden and Designed Landscape by Nigel Dunnett and Andy Clayden. Timber Press, 2007.
Creating Rain Gardens: Capturing the Rain for Your Own Water-Efficient Garden, by Cleo Woelfle-Erskine and Apryl Uncapher. Timber Press, 2012.
Green Infrastructure for Southwestern Neighborhoods. Watershed Management Group.
Free download (pdf)
Infraestructura Verde Para Comunidades Del Desierto Sonorense. Watershed Management Group.
Descarga gratis (pdf)
Images, Video, Audio, Drop in a Bucket Blog, Financial Incentives, Materials, Suppliers, Designers, Installers, Books, and much more.
Many great examples by drylands-restoration master Craig Sponholtz.
“Harvest Rain,” by the Fundacion San Bernardino. Highlights the dramatic success of constructing check dams in the watersheds of El Coronado Ranch, Arizona. Contact Valer Austin at:
“Water Harvesting the Permaculture Way,” The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. Documents Geoff Lawton as he designs and builds a dam and swale system on a client’s small one-acre farm.
Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Vol. 3: Roof Catchment and Cistern Systems, by Brad Lancaster. Rainsource Press, publication date TBA. This volume presents guidelines specific to cistern systems, helps you select the best non-toxic materials for your system, and size it for maximum efficiency. Numerous case studies are given describing various systems and how, through integrated design, tanks do far more than just store water.
Rainwater Collection for the Mechanically Challenged, 2nd rev. ed., by Suzy Banks with Richard Heinichen. Tank Town Publishing, 2004. An entertaining resource on various cisterns and how you could plumb them into your home with gravity feed or mechanically pressurized systems.
Rainwater Catchment Systems for Domestic Supply: Design, Construction, and Implementation, edited by John Gould and Erik Nissen-Petersen. Practical Action Publishing (formerly Intermediate Technology Publications), 1999. An excellent review of rainwater-harvesting practices around the world. It presents case studies that will help anyone intending to design or construct a rainwater-catchment system.
Rainwater Harvesting: System Planning, by Billy Kniffen, Brent Clayton, Douglas Kingman, Fouad Jaber, AgriLife Extension, Texas A&M System, 2012. An excellent guide to the harvest of water in tanks and the distribution of this water. This is the workbook/textbook for the recommended water-harvesting accreditation course of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA).
The New ARCSA Rainwater Harvesting Manual (color)
Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting, 3rd ed., Texas Water Development Board in Cooperation, 2005. A great, easy-to-read resource on harvesting rainwater in cisterns. Water quality, basic system set-up, and case studies are all covered. A short video covering cistern basics is also available. Manual available online at:
Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers and Ponds for Domestic Supply, Fire and Emergency Use, Plus How to Make Ferrocement Water Tanks, by Art Ludwig. Oasis Design, 2005. A great overview and how-to on numerous water storage options.
Ferrocement Water Tanks and Their Construction, by S. B. Watt. Practical Action Publishing (formerly Intermediate Technology Publications), 1978. A very practical resource emphasizing low-tech methods of ferrocement cistern construction, and mention of unstabilized adobe cisterns.
Guidelines on Rainwater Catchment Systems for Hawaii, by Patricia S. H. Macomber. College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2001. An informative guide documenting the use of various tanks, and providing a good overview of harvested rainwater quality and treatment and filtration options.
Free download (pdf)
Sustainable House, by Michael Mobbs. Choice Books, 1998. How a family of four renovated their inner-city Sydney, Australian home to make it almost entirely self-sufficient in electricity, water, and waste disposal.
Roof-Reliant Landscaping: Rainwater Harvesting with Cistern Systems in New Mexico, Nate Downey (principal author) and Randall D. Schultz (editor). New Mexico Office of the State Engineer, 2009. A well-written, thorough guide.
“The Secrets Of Low Tech Plumbing,” by John Vivian. Mother Earth News, June/July 1995, pp. 34–90. Information on simple rain catchment, water ram pumps, solar pumps, and old fashioned water conservation.
Online Resources (in addition to above)
A good quick reference for availability and prices of pre-manufactured water tanks. You may find a local distributor is more convenient and cheaper without the shipping, but this website is good to start the search of what is available.
This is a great website documenting Ole Ersson’s permitted potable rainwater harvesting system in Portland, Oregon. Includes diagram of the system and components used. The system cost $1,500 and harvests 27,000 gallons per year.
“Rainwater Collection for the Mechanically Challenged,” Tank Town Publishing. An entertaining and informative 37-minute video on the design and installation of household rainwater systems providing potable water.
Rainwater-harvesting greenhouse strategies for the southwest U.S.
Paul Cross of Charybda Greenhouse Farm in Arroyo Hondo, NM
“Rainwater Harvesting from a High Tunnel (Greenhouse) for Irrigation Use,” by Shawn Shouse, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, PM 3017.
Rainwater-harvesting greenhouses in Venice, Italy
Handbook of Water Use and Conservation, by Amy Vickers. WaterPlow Press, 2001. The most thorough reference on water use and conservation.
Water Efficiency for Your Home: Products and Advice Which Save Water Energy, and Money, 3rd ed., by John Woodwell, Jim Dyer, Richard Pinkham, and Scott Chaplin. Rocky Mountain Institute, 1995.
www.rainharvest.com/more/Rocky Mtn Water Efficiency in Homes.pdf
This user-friendly website provides water use rates for household appliances, as well as recommended conservation strategies.
Greywater and Your Detergent, prepared by the Office of Arid Land Studies in cooperation with the Soil, Water and Plant Analysis Laboratory, University of Arizona, sponsored by Tucson Water. A handy pamphlet comparing the performance of various detergents dissolved in greywater used to irrigate a landscape.
Create an Oasis with Greywater: Choosing, Building and Using Greywater Systems, Includes Branched Drains, 5th edition, by Art Ludwig. Oasis Design, © Art Ludwig, 1997-2012. Presents a wide array of greywater-harvesting options.
Greywater Guidelines, by Val L. Little. Arizona greywater guidelines. All Water CASA research is copyrighted and protected.
Great resources for greywater, including various systems and greywater volume estimates.
Art Ludwig’s website is the most comprehensive web resource for greywater, and on it you’ll find plenty more info relating to water and ecological design, including the best info on the accessible Laundry to Landscape system—which directs washing machine greywater to plants via drip irrigation tubing.
Great info on greywater harvesting, rainwater harvesting, composting toilets, and educational programs.
Click on the link to “laundry products research” to find great information on the various ingredients of different products, and what those products mean for your plants and soil.
“Laundry to Landscape: Greywater Systems with Art Ludwig of Oasis Design,” Oasis Design, 2009. Clear video focusing on a drumless laundry greywater system using the washing machine’s pump to distribute water into the landscape via plastic drip-irrigation tubing.
Passive Solar Architecture Pocket Reference, by Ken Haggard, David A. Bainbridge, and Rachel Aljilani. Earthscan Publications, 2009. This book provides easy-to-use information on a wide range of topics relevant to the passive built environment, including thermal sources, microclimate, radiation, air flow relations, passive heating, cooling and ventilation, natural lighting and life cycle cost and design.
Passive Solar Architecture: Heating, Cooling, Ventilation, Daylighting, and More Using Natural Flows, by David A. Bainbridge and Ken Haggard. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2011. An excellent, thorough resource.
The Passive Solar Energy Book, by Ed Mazria. Rodale Press, 1979. Out of print, but available from amazon.com, powells.com, and others. An excellent book.
Sun, Wind, and Light: Architectural Design Strategies, 2nd ed., by G. Z. Brown and Mark DeKay. John Wiley & Sons, 2001. A pattern book illustrating passive heating and cooling strategies for a diverse array of contexts ranging from individual homes to high rises to whole towns.
Sun Rhythm Form, by Ralph L. Knowles, MIT Press, 1981. A well-illustrated book that proposes ensuring solar access for all in the urban and suburban environment by building within “solar envelopes.” The solar envelope is a “container” or three-dimensional boundary in which a building’s height, width, and depth must be limited to ensure key solar access for all surrounding properties, while enhancing passive heating/cooling, comfort, daylighting, ventilation, and quality of life for those within the building being built. This is a key concept to enable our cities to be built without dependence on polluting fossil fuels.
Ritual House, by Ralph L. Knowles, Island Press, 2006. A wonderful book on how ritual and vernacular architecture have historically sheltered and empowered us, while working with, rather than fighting against natural rhythms and resources, and how we can design and retrofit our modern buildings and cities to work with natural systems once again.Design with Climate: Bioclimatic Approach to Architectural Regionalism, by Victor Olgyay, Princeton University Press, 1963. A pioneering work with extensive strategies, data, and graphics for understanding and building within four distinct climate regions: temperate, cool, hot-arid, hot-humid.
The Food and Heat Producing Solar Greenhouse, by Bill Yanda and Rick Fisher. John Muir Publications, 1980.
Effective Shading with Landscape Trees, by William B. Miller and Charles M. Sacamano. University of Arizona College of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension bulletin 188035/8835, March 1990.
A Golden Thread: 2,500 Years of Solar Architecture and Technology, by Ken Butti and John Perlin. Cheshire Books, 1980. Fascinating history, solar design has been around a very long time.
The Solar House: Passive Heating and Cooling, by Dan Chiras. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2002.The Return of the Solar Cat Book: Mixing Cat Wisdom with Science and Solar Politics, by Jim Augustyn, Patty Paw Press, 2003. A humorous illustrated guide to the basics of passive and active solar strategies and energy politics, from the cat perspective.
Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 3rd Edition: Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life and Landscape, by Brad Lancaster. Rainsource Press, 2019. For numerous tools for the integrated, regenerative harvest of on-site water, sun, fertility, food, and more, see Chapter 4 – Integrated Design; Appendix 7 – Sun Angles and Paths; and Appendix 9 – Water-Energy-Carbon Nexus.
www.SunCalc.netAn online app that illustrates the sun’s path for any given day at any given location.
Sustainable by Design’s online tools to determine sun angles and position, visualize sun paths, window overhang design and visualization of overhang shade, overhang recommendations, visualization of penetration of sunlight through windows into a room, visualization of shading from window louvers and fins, calculation of heat gain through windows, visualization of shadows cast by solar PV and hot water panels, and monthly climate data for about 250 U.S. cities.
NOAA Solar Calculator to find sunrise, sunset, solar noon, and solar position for any place on Earth
The USNO Sun or Moon Altitude/Azimuth calculates the altitude and azimuth of the sun or moon at multiple times during any day anywhere in the world between the year 1700 and the year 2100. Results are displayed in 24-hour format.
Magnetic declination is the angle, at a given location and on a given date, between true north and magnetic north. Due to magnetic changes in the earth’s core, magnetic declination changes from place to place and over time. Use either of these websites to determine how many degrees you’ll need to correct your compass’ reading of magnetic north to know where true north is. Note: for the NOAA site, you’ll need to know your site’s latitude and longitude in decimal format. To convert coordinates from minutes and seconds to decimal format, visit this page of the U.S. government’s FCC website.
Autodesk Ecotect Analysis
Great for visually assessing sun and shadow relationships anytime of the year, anywhere in the world. Also includes design tips, and carbon-emission and energy-consumption analysis.
video demonstration: www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKZ35xh4ofw
Google Solar SketchUp
Free software to visualize sun and shadow relationships for anytime of the year, anywhere in the world.
video demonstration: www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4MXyzgC1Jk
Sun Seeker: 3D Augmented Reality Camera 3-D View
Uses the GPS unit in your phone to find and show your site’s solar path, its hour intervals, its winter- and summer-solstice paths, sunrise and sunset times, and current time’s shadow ratio. A pretty good app, but needs improvement. It gives you the shadow ratio only for the date and time you are looking at the app. It could be improved by enabling you to find the shadow ratio for any date and time of your choosing. In addition, it would be great if you could export and print the sun path images and map views.
Your site’s latitude: Look at a globe, atlas, or topographic map, or google “what is the latitude of (your town, state, country).”
Solar Cookers International
A great organization/resource for making and using your own solar oven.
Barbara Kerr and the Kerr-Cole Sustainable Living Center
Pioneering work in solar cooking and sustainable living.
The Sunny Side of Cooking: Solar Cooking and Other Ecologically Friendly Cooking Methods for the 21st Century by Lisa Rayner.
Solar Cooking Naturally, by Virginia Heather Gurley. Sunlight Works, 1995.
Solar Water Disinfection
Solar water disinfection with PET plastic bottles or glass bottles (SODIS)en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_water_disinfection
Note: Do not use plastic bottles when the plastic starts to cloud up due to the plastic breaking down in the UV light of the sun.
Solar Water Distillation
Eliodomestico solar still
Transforms salt water into drinking water, and can be made by local craftsman with mostly local materials.
Solar rights are the right to access and harness the rays of the sun.
But when solar rights enter the world of legal terminology, terms can vary or shift with nuance. Below are three common terms and how they may be defined:
Solar Access – the ability to continue to receive and utilize sunlight on one’s property, across property lines, without obstruction from another property (e.g., buildings, trees, or other impediments)
Solar Easements – the right, expressed as an easement, restriction, covenant, or condition contained in any deed, contract, or other publicly recorded document assuring a landowner adequate solar access for solar energy systems and/or passive solar (lighting, cooking, growing crops, clothes drying, heating, and cooling) systems
Solar Rights – the ability to install and utilize solar-energy systems and/or passive solar systems on property subject to public or private land-use restrictions (e.g., homeowners association Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CCRs))
A Comprehensive Review of Solar Access Law in the United States
New Mexico’s Solar Rights
For information contact the Energy Conservation and Management Division, NM Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. For a downloadable PDF on the subject, go to:
Project Laundry List
Works toward making air-drying and cold-water washing laundry acceptable, legal, and desirable as simple and effective ways to save energy. Great info and activism.
www.laundrylist.orgThe Solar Envelope: How to Heat and Cool Cities Without Fossil Fuels Great article on passive solar design for cities, and how Ralph Knowles proved passive solar design could be implemented without limiting desired high-densities in urban areas. www.lowtechmagazine.com/2012/03/solar-oriented-cities-1-the-solar-envelope.html
Opportunity Outside of Shadow: A New Paradigm for City Planning
Great info on historic solar rights and solar easements in England, plus design tips to maintain solar access within cities in all latitudes, by Sean Scott, Trim Tab, Winter 2012.
Right to Light
A form of easement in English law that gives a long-standing owner of a building with windows a right to maintain the level of natural, passive, free illumination through the windows from the sun. It is based on the Ancient Lights law.
Living Building Challenge Imperative 18:Rights to Nature
The Living Building Challenge is the most sustainable, integrated green design certification I’ve come across, setting a much higher bar than LEED. You must meet or exceed 20 Imperatives/requirements. Imperative 18:Rights to Nature covers solar rights and solar access. The full Living Building Challenge 4.0 can be downloaded from the website below.
Solar Rights by Sara C. Bronin, Boston University Law Review, Vol. 89, p. 1217, 2009. Discusses the value of solar access/rights and of attempts to assign solar rights in different countries over time, and how American efforts have fallen short.
Modern Lights by Sara C. Bronin, University of Colorado Law Review, Vol. 80, p. 101, 2009. A companion piece to Sara’s Solar Rights, this article proposes a framework within which a comprehensive solar-rights regime might be developed.
Boulder, Colorado Solar Access Code
What initiated first comprehensive zoning resolution in U.S.
NYC Dept of Planning website describes how a seven-acre shadow cast by one of the first skyscrapers in Manhattan initiated the first comprehensive zoning resolution in the U.S. in 1915.
Batch-style solar water heaters (no pumps required) Note: Check manufacturer’s climate requirements for these heaters to avoid freeze damage. Cornell 480 passive-solar water heaters
A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction, by Christopher Alexander, S. Ishikawa, M. Silverstein. Oxford, 1977.
An Introduction to Permaculture, by Bill Mollison. Tagari Publications, 1988.
Design with Nature, by Ian McHarg. Wiley, 1995.
Sun, Wind, and Light: Architectural Design Strategies, 2nd ed., by G. Z. Brown and Mark DeKay. John Wiley & Sons, 2001.
The Hand-Sculpted House: A Practical and Philosophical Guide to Building a Cob Cottage, by Ianto Evans, Michael G. Smith, and Linda Smiley. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2002.
Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape—Naturally, by Robert Kourik. Metamorphic Press, 1986.
Permaculture Mind, by Joel Glanzberg. www.PatternMind.org.
Living Building Challenge
A philosophy, advocacy-tool, and certification program pushing sustainability through more a more integrated approach to development and redevelopment. The LBC Standard goes far beyond LEED (a program I find lacking). Check out the Living Building Challenge Standard here.
The Living Building Challenge/International Living Future Institute’s
“Need a Home? Dive a Dumpster!” by Brad Lancaster, Permaculture Drylands Journal, No. 30, Summer 1998
“Street Orchards for Community Security,” by Brad Lancaster
- Articles referencing Brad Lancaster and his work
- Audio interviews with Brad Lancaster
- Books highlighting some of Brad’s work
Superbia!: 31 Ways to Create Sustainable Neighborhoods, by Dan Chiras and Dave Wann. New Society Publishers, 2003. Presents a number of easy ways to improve existing communities.
Designing Sustainable Communities: Learning from Village Homes, by Judy Corbett and Michael Corbett. Island Press, 2000. An inside look at the development of Village Homes, a unique example of sustainable design in a community. This 60-acre residential and business development includes extensive common areas, community gardens, narrow streets, pedestrian and bike paths, solar homes, and in terms of rainwater harvesting—an innovative ecological drainage system.
The Big Orange Splot, by Daniel Manus Pinkwater. Scholastic, 1977.
Wonderful tools, events, and examples of reclaiming urban public land, such as streets and public rights-of-way for art, food production, gathering, water harvesting, play, and more.
City of Portland, Oregon’s Green Street Program
An easy way to find out and/or rate the walkability of a neighborhood or community.
Organization promoting healthy communities by empowering people to transform our streets into vibrant places for walking, bicycling, socializing, and play.
Organization promoting and practicing the growing, harvesting, processing, and celebration of native foods grown along neighborhood streets and in yards, and irrigated only with on-site rainwater, stormwater, and greywater.
Guide to Prehistoric Astronomy in the Southwest, by J. McKim Malville.
A Golden Thread: 2,500 Years of Solar Architecture and Technology, by Ken Butti and John Perlin. Cheshire Books, 1980. Fascinating history; solar design has been around a very long time.
Features great information and photos of sun calendars, petroglyphs in Arizona and New Mexico. In particular check out their virtual tours of various ancient sites and how the sun interacts with them.
Great info on solar and lunar orientation of buildings and petroglyphs such as the sun dagger at Chaco canyon.
Paul Mirocha’s documentation of sun arrows on petroglyphs atop Tumamoc Hill in Tucson, Arizona.
Visit the Snow & Wind Harvesting page on this website.
Publications & Videos
The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth, by Tim Flannery, Atlantic Monthly Press, 2005.
An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It. Rodale Books, 2006.
An Inconvenient Truth, video, 2006.
Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer), by Stan Cox. The New Press, 2010.
A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest, by William deBuys, Oxford University Press, 2011.
“Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math: Three Simple Numbers That Add Up to Global Catastrophe—and Make Clear Who the Real Enemy Is,” by Bill McKibben. Rolling Stone, July 19, 2012.
Food, Water, and Energy: Know the Nexus
Water-footprint and virtual-water calculator & more
The following resource sections are about rainwater-harvesting community and government resources, as well as a list of firms and individuals that do rainwater-harvesting design.
Tour other sites to learn from their successes and mistakes.
Gotta be my favorite homestead, and you can thoroughly tour this tiny gem via their website.
American Solar Energy Society
Visit the ASES National Solar Tour section of their website at:
U.S. Green Building Council
The directory on their website can help you track down local green builder programs, some of which organize tours.
Akash Ganga Chennai Rain Centre
An urban rainwater harvesting demonstration site in Chennai, India.
Rainwater Harvesting: Success Story from Chennai India, by Ram Krishnan. A report presented at the ARCSA Conference in Austin, Texas, August 21-23, 2003. Order proceedings from:
Their website features water-harvesting demonstration sites in Los Angeles, California.
Seattle, Washington Public Utilities Street Edge Alternatives (SEA) Streets Project
Progressive multi-use water harvesting/ beautification/ flood control strategies in the public rights-of-way.
Many case studies, image galleries, and videos
Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web, by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis, Timber Press, 2010.
Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth, by William Bryant Logan. Norton, 1995.
The Soil and Health: A Study of Organic Agriculture, by Sir Albert Howard, with a new introduction by Wendell Berry. University Press of Kentucky, 2006.
Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, by Toby Hemenway. Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2001.
Food from Dryland Gardens, by David Cleveland and Daniela Soleri. Center for People, Food, and Environment, 1991. CD-ROM, 2002.
A Guide for Desert and Dryland Restoration: New Hope for Arid Lands, by David A. Bainbridge. Island Press, 2007.
Let it Rot!: The Gardener’s Guide to Composting, by Stu Campbell, Storey Publishing, 1998.
Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System, by Mary Appelhof. Flower Press, 2006.
Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure, by Joseph C. Jenkins, Joseph Jenkins Inc, 2005.
There’s a Hair in My Dirt! by Gary Larson. Harper Perennial, 1999.
International Rainwater Catchment Systems Association
International Rainwater Harvesting Alliance
Permaculture Design Magazine
Permaculture and related courses around the world. Information on courses and events, as well as subscription information at:
The Last Straw: The International Journal of Straw Bale and Natural Building
Lists natural building and sustainable building events and workshops.
Watershed Management Group (Arizona)
Integrated courses in rainwater-harvesting earthworks, water-harvesting cisterns, greywater harvesting, green streets infrastructure, composting toilets and other soil stewarding, food production, and more.
Sonoran Permaculture Guild (Arizona)
ECOSA Institute (Arizona)
Permaculture Institute (New Mexico)
Quivira Coalition (New Mexico)
Craig Sponholtz/Watershed Artisans
Watershed restoration, water harvesting, consulting services, educational programs and workshops.
Occidental Arts And Ecology Center (OAEC) and OAEC’s WATER Institute (California)
These organizations conduct many fine workshops including “Watershed Basins of Relations: Starting and Sustaining Community Watershed Groups.”
www.oaec.orgGreywater Action (California) Offering workshops in rainwater harvesting, greywater harvesting, and compost toilets
“Basins of Relations: Restoring a Watershed State of Being,” by Brock Dolman. Permaculture Activist, no. 47, Summer 2002, pp. 8–12.
“A Watershed Runs through You,” by Freeman House. YES! Magazine, no. 28, Winter 2004.
Watersheds: A Practical Handbook for Healthy Water, by Clive Dobson and Gregor Gilpin Beck. Firefly Books, 1999. A beautifully illustrated book providing an overview of the fundamentals of ecology from the simple concept of a watershed to the biological intricacies of a wetland ecosystem and its implications on the environment.
Basins of Relations: A Citizen’s Guide to Protecting and Restoring Our Watersheds, Water Institute, 2008. Wonderful guide to enhance hydrological literacy and take action within your watersheds.
Getting in Step: Engaging and Involving Stakeholders in Your Watershed, by Charlie MacPherson, Barry Tonning, and Emily Fallasli of Tetra Tech, Inc. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 68-C-99-249, 1998. This guide provides the tools needed to effectively engage stakeholders to restore and maintain healthy environmental conditions throughout their watershed through community support and cooperative action.
Getting in Step: A Guide for Conducting Watershed Outreach Campaigns, prepared by Tetra Tech, Inc. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA 841-B-03-002, December 2003. This guide is an update of the 1998 publication “Getting in Step: A Guide to Effective Outreach in Your Watershed.” This updated version includes more specific information on how to work with the mass media to conduct an outreach campaign. For copies of this guide and its companion video go to the National Service Center for Environmental Publications’ website:
Starting Up: A Handbook for New River and Watershed Organizations, compiled by Katherine Luscher. River Network, 1996. This 440-page handbook is based on the experience of dozens of veteran leaders in the river and conservation movements with articles laying out the critical moves every newly forming organization needs to thrive and grow.
How to Start a Watershed Awareness Program, by the Aquatic Outreach Institute. Available from the Watershed Project Store.
Stormwater Strategies: Community Responses to Runoff Pollution, by Peter H. Lehner, George P. Aponte Clarke, Diane M. Cameron, and Andrew G. Frank. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), May 1999. One hundred case studies of successful projects around the U.S. that simultaneously improve runoff quality and the environment, have economic advantages, and additional community benefits.
“Stormwater Management: Use It or Lose It,” by Tim Murphy. Sustainable Living in Drylands, no. 5, Winter 1988/89. A great wake-up call to the value of our stormwater runoff, and how we can use it as the local resource it is.
Stormwater: Asset Not Liability, published by the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council. (213) 367-4111
Stormwater Journal keeps you updated on issues related to stormwater control and lessening stormwater runoff pollution.
Small Flows Magazine
A welcome alternative to large-scale, centralized systems, this publication features news, technical, and educational articles about a variety of small community wastewater issues, including treatment technologies, regulations, and finance. Included as an insert are peer-reviewed research journal articles
International Erosion Control Association (IECA) and its publication Erosion Control Journal keep you updated on erosion control strategies pushed by regulators and the industry.
The Water Institute
Center for Watershed Protection
Occidental Arts and Ecology Center’s WATER Institute
This organization offers the four-day residential training program, “Basins of Relations: Starting and Sustaining Community Watershed Groups.”
Designing Urban Landscapes and Retrofitting Cities as a Series of Functioning Miniature Urban-Forest Watersheds
Second Nature: Adapting LA’s Landscape for Sustainable Living, edited by Patrick Condon and Stacy Moriarty. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, 1999. A great resource of a group in Los Angeles that is creating cross-jurisdictional and cross-disciplinary connections between the people and institutions responsible for the infrastructure, planning, and ecology of Los Angeles such that the city is viewed as a living watershed. Concepts such as passive rainwater-harvesting and multiple-use landscaping are presented to help improve the sustainability of the City and the watershed.
Product Specification for the Transagency Resources for Economic and Environmental Sustainability Project, by John Stokes Associates, Inc., 1998. Prepared for TreePeople, Beverly Hills, CA. This is the Cost-Benefit Analysis for the T.R.E.E.S. Project, a program in Los Angeles. See Second Nature, above.
The City Forest: The Keyline Plan for the Human Environment Revolution by P. A. Yeomans, 1971. Available for download at www.soilandhealth.org.