Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond by Brad Lancaster

Drops in a Bucket Blog

This blog is a celebration of wonderful little efforts that lead to great things. In the beginning those small efforts often seem like little more than a drop in a bucket. However, this is great if they’re drops in the bucket of abundance. With enough drops we’ll fill the bucket! A drop in a bucket is a problem only if it’s a drop in the wrong bucket—the bucket of scarcity.

My hope is that this blog will help plant many seeds to enhance good efforts already in the works and to influence positive change on the local level, simultaneously affecting the global.

November 1, 2019

Potential, Challenges, and Resources for Condensate Harvesting

by Brad Lancaster (C) 2019, www.HarvestingRainwater.com Top of the Austin City Hall air-conditioner-condensate waterfall Bottom of the Austin City Hall air-conditioner-condensate waterfall Condensate Harvesting is the harvest of water vapor in the air that freely condenses on cold surfaces at your site. When water vapor in the air (humidity) comes into contact with a colder […]

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October 2, 2019

Giveaway of Brad’s Newly Released Book, “Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 2, 2nd Edition”

I’m conducting the giveaway of signed copies of the full-color, 2nd edition of Volume 2 September 27 to October 10, 2019.   This giveaway is only for people with mailing addresses in the United States, and is done through the website GoodReads. (Note: To get in the running, you’ll first need to become a member […]

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September 22, 2019

Giveaway of Brad’s Newly Released Book, “Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 3rd Edition”

I’m conducting the giveaway of signed copies of the just-released, full-color, 3rd edition of Volume 1 beginning September 25, 2019. This giveaway is only for people with mailing addresses in the United States, and is done through the website GoodReads. (Note: To get in the running, you’ll first need to become a member at www.GoodReads.com, […]

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September 8, 2019

Harvesting Rainwater for Hikers, Wildlife, Livestock, Oases, and More

By Brad Lancaster © 2019 HarvestingRainwater.com I love water and seek it out when I hike—especially tinajas, natural water pools in the desert. Such ephemeral pools can be created with simple strategies in dry areas where they don’t already exist. Similarly, rainwater tanks coupled with small catchment roofs can provide water that can last year […]

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April 10, 2018

Finally, an Easy-to-Permit Three-Way Valve for Greywater-Harvesting Systems

by Brad Lancaster © 2018 www.HarvestingRainwater.com Greywater harvesting—the practice of directing the drain water from household sink, bathtub, shower, and clothes washers to your landscape plantings—can lead to big water savings. It turns “waste” water into a free, on-site “resource” water. It also enables you to mimic the planet’s hydrologic cycle by using, or cycling, […]

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September 22, 2017

Historic Rainwater-Harvesting Systems at the Shrine of Santa Rita in Vail, Arizona

by Brad Lancaster © 2017 www.HarvestingRainwater.com   Southern Arizona has a rich water-harvesting history that is too often forgotten or lost. Though sometimes gems are dusted off, unearthed, remembered, or even celebrated—and they can inspire and inform us in both the present and future. One such example is this Saturday’s event at the old Vail, […]

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November 26, 2016

Bandsar Agriculture: Indigenous Runoff-Harvesting & Climate-Change Resilience from Iranian Drylands

This blog entry was graciously provided by J. Tabatabaee Yazdi, who hosted me when I presented at the Iranian Rainwater Catchment Systems Association conference in 2014. You can see my writings and photos on that trip and the amazing traditional water-harvesting practices I witnessed here. My time in Iran was incredible, but too short. I […]

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November 9, 2016

Important Elevation and Slope Relationships of Eddy or Backwater Basins

October 23, 2016

Street-Side Eddy Basins

October 16, 2016

Harvesting Rock Water and More in Kenya

by Brad Lancaster © 2016 www.HarvestingRainwater.com Earlier this year, while visiting the Laikipia Plateau, Kenya, I saw some of the worst erosion I’ve yet witnessed, while also experiencing a variety of growing oases. The three oases I’ll describe here are: 1. The capture of rock water (runoff from a large bedrock outcropping) into a cistern […]

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October 9, 2016

DIY Steam Harvesting in Rural Kenya

by Brad Lancaster © 2016 www.HarvestingRainwater.com Joseph Saitabao saw perennial water where no one else did. He saw it around Mount Suswa, Kenya, where no one lived during the dry season due to the lack of water. During the rainy season, people would get by on rooftop water harvested in tanks, or runoff captured in […]

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October 1, 2016

Evolutions Within the Dunbar/Spring Public Commons

by Brad Lancaster © 2016 www.HarvestingRainwater.com A bare beginning When I moved to the Dunbar/Spring neighborhood in 1994, much of it was not a pleasant place to walk. Most of the public rights-of-way (the area between the street curb and property lines/fences) were just hot, bare dirt, devoid of shade trees and other life. There […]

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September 28, 2016

How to Make a Bucket Light: A DIY Dark-Sky-Compliant Outdoor Light

September 9, 2016

Night-Sky Harvesting

by Brad Lancaster www.SunAndShadeHarvesting.com Where are we? There is so much light we cannot see. According to NPR, nearly 80 percent of people in North America cannot see the Milky Way in the night sky due to light pollution. I love seeing the stars at night. It reminds me of where we are in the […]

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May 16, 2016

Evolutions on Mr. Phiri’s Water-Harvesting Plantation, 1995–2016

by Brad Lancaster © 2016 www.HarvestingRainwater.com Earlier this year I had the opportunity to return to Zimbabwe and to the farm of some of my prime water-harvesting mentors, Mr. Zephaniah Phiri Maseko and his family. While in the region, I also visited the farms of many other innovative farmers who are enhancing their soils’ hydrology […]

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May 16, 2016

The Passing of Mentor and Master Water Harvester Mr. Phiri

by Brad Lancaster © 2015 In September 2015, I got word from Ken Wilson of the Muonde Trust that an incredible mentor of his, mine, and of thousands around the world, Mr. Zephaniah Phiri Maseko, had passed away. Mr. Phiri had set me on my path in 1995 (and his story and teachings became the […]

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December 8, 2015

Multi-Use Rain-Garden Plant Lists: Invitations to Deeper and More-Connected Relationships

by Brad Lancaster © 2015 www.HarvestingRainwater.com A story of early motivation I grew up in the suburbs of Tucson, surrounded by lush desert vegetation. I would climb it, hide in it, and play around it. But I rarely knew any of the plants’ names, and I did not have much of a sense of what […]

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May 25, 2015

An Evolving Checklist of Green-Infrastructure Capacities to Develop and Potential Strategies to Implement in Our Communities

by Brad Lancaster © 2015 www.HarvestingRainwater.com The following was prepared for the BECC/COCEF 2015 Border Green Infrastructure Forum. It is an evolving document meant to help promote and evolve the concept and practice of Green Infrastructure (GI) among local officials, developers, consultants, academics, non-profits, and the general public in communities on both sides of the […]

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May 13, 2015

Guerrilla-Planting Rain and Native Food Trees

by Brad Lancaster © 2015 www.HarvestingRainwater.com Yesterday riding my bike home I saw a bare wet spot. A prime planting spot. A potential-life spot. A food spot. A joy spot. Such a spot can be artificial, the result of imported water, as it was in this case. But even better if it’s natural—due to a […]

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April 16, 2015

Sun- & Shade-Trap Videos

by Brad Lancaster © 2015 www.HarvestingRainwater.com There are a number of ways we can work, live, and play with the seasons’ changing sun paths to freely and passively heat, cool, and power indoor and outdoor areas. A sun & shade trap creates a protected microclimate in which to plant a garden or fruit trees, hang […]

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October 19, 2014

Rains of Hurricane Odile Captured in West Texas Water-Harvesting Workshops and Beyond

by Brad Lancaster © 2014 www.HarvestingRainwater.com My dance with the hurricane rains began on my last day in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as I walked along a beautiful acequia that predates the United States (fig. 1). “Officially” established by the Atrisco Land Grant in 1692, the acequia connected New Spain’s water system to the irrigation systems […]

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October 9, 2014

Harvesting Rain from a 1,000+-Year Storm Event

by Brad Lancaster © 2014 www.HarvestingRainwater.com Hurricanes Norbert and Odile caused horrible destruction in Baja, Mexico, while those of us further north were more fortunate. We got the abundant rainfall from the hurricanes on September 8 and 18, but not the violent winds. How many of us were prepared to use the rain for good […]

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August 1, 2014

Fog Harvesting with Living Systems

by Brad Lancaster © 2014 www.HarvestingRainwater.com Got fog? Plant and grow living fog-harvesters or become one yourself, and you’ll end up increasing your rainfall—or at least your fogfall. Many native plants that grow in areas where fog is a regular occurrence have adapted their leaf structure to harvest fog. The fog gathers/precipitates on the rough/fine […]

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July 23, 2014

Rainhead Screens

by Brad Lancaster © 2014 www.HarvestingRainwater.com Around the world among rainwater-harvesting cultures, people clean their water catchments before the rain. Children often have this responsibility, sweeping a flat roof- or patio-catchment. At my home, the responsibility is mine, with the cleaning of my roof gutters and all inlets to curb cuts along the street. I […]

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July 12, 2014

Revised Multi-Use Rain-Garden Lists for Tucson, Arizona (and a template for anywhere else)

by Brad Lancaster © 2014 www.HarvestingRainwater.com In the latest reprinting of “Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 2nd Edition,” and on my website I have revised appendix 4 by adding a Rain-Garden Zone column to the plant lists. The column indicates the ideal planting zone/location(s) for each plant within or beside a rain […]

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July 8, 2014

Hidden Toxins in Roofing Materials From Which We Harvest Water

by Brad Lancaster © 2014 www.HarvestingRainwater.com One of the best ways to make sure we have clean water is to avoid polluting our air and the water in the first place. This is why I recommend using only non-toxic building products and, ideally, making sure all materials in a water-collection system are rated for potable-water […]

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June 9, 2014

Riding a Bicycle Naked Might Make You Sweat, But It Saves Water and Generates Joy

Riding a Bicycle Naked Might Make You Sweat, But It Saves Water and Generates Joy by Brad Lancaster © 2014 www.HarvestingRainwater.com I love Portland’s World Naked Bike Ride! When I participated there were over 5,000 of us riding naked together. The ride is brilliant bicycle advocacy. Cycling home—fully clothed—after the ride, folks in cars would […]

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May 17, 2014

My Trip to Iran by Invitation of the Iranian Rainwater Catchment Systems Association

My trip to Iran by invitation of the Iranian Rainwater Catchment Systems Association Another incredible opportunity to share ideas, traditions, and innovations across borders within similar climates by Brad Lancaster © 2014 www.HarvestingRainwater.com Los Angeles, California The February 2014 trip began with a bike ride. (My preference is to ride my bike to the airport, […]

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May 15, 2014

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 2nd Edition, Wins Two More Literary Awards

I’m honored to announce that my new, expanded 2nd edition of Volume 1 has received yet another 2 literary awards! They are: Foreword Reviews’ 2013 Book of the Year Award Finalist: botya.forewordreviews.com/finalists/2013/home-and-garden 2014 Nautilus Book Award Silver Winner: www.nautilusbookawards.com/2014_SILVER_Winners.html For a list of additional awards the book has won click here. Get your copy here […]

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May 2, 2014

Brad Lancaster Wins 2014 Bicycle Commuter of the Year along with Juan Mungia

Brad Lancaster wins 2014 Bicycle Commuter of the Year along with Juan Mungia Said of Brad upon presentation of the award: For years Brad has lived car free. He conducts all his local business by bicycle, and uses a bicycle for other kinds of trips most of us don’t think of as bikeable (including picking […]

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December 18, 2013

Dance with—and Harvest—the Sun and Shadows! New Videos Show You How

by Brad Lancaster © 2013 www.HarvestingRainwater.com www.SunAndShadeHarvesting.com I heat, light, and power my home primarily with the sun, and cool it primarily with shadows and natural ventilation. Free/passive strategies are at the core of how I make all this work. Examples include choosing a home oriented to the sun, likewise orienting my landscape to the […]

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December 16, 2013

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Wins 2013 Literary Awards

This year’s release of the updated, expanded Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 2nd Edition has won three literary awards: * Best Indie Books of 2013 by Kirkus Reviews in the Nonfiction category * 2013 USA Best Book Award in the General Home category * 2013 Southwest Books of the Year pick More […]

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October 28, 2013

Rainwater Harvesting in Puglia, Italy

by Brad Lancaster © 2013 www.HarvestingRainwater.com This past September I had the great pleasure of teaching (and learning more about) ancient and modern water and sun harvesting in the Puglia region of southern Italy. Flying in, I saw perennial food-producing solar-power systems everywhere in the form of olive, almond, apricot, peach, loquat, apple, quince, fig, […]

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September 27, 2013

I Knew It Was the Fall Equinox On September 22 Because My Sun- & Shade-Harvesting Sculpture/Calendar Told Me So!

by Brad Lancaster © 2013 www.HarvestingRainwater.com I designed the sizing and placement of the roof overhang/gutter and windows on my garottage (one-car garage turned cottage) in Tucson, Arizona, to let the sun’s rays in when I need them for heating, and shade the sun’s rays out when I need cooling. The sculpture shown in the […]

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September 12, 2013

Giveaway of Brad’s Newly Released Book, “Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 2nd Edition”

From September 25 to October 8, 2013, I’ll be conducting an autographed-book giveaway for U.S.-based book readers on the website GoodReads. (Note: To get in the running for one of 5 free copies, you’ll first need to become a member at www.GoodReads.com, but this is super quick and easy.) Please sign up if you are […]

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May 28, 2013

What Renters (and Non-Renters) Can Do to Harvest and Enhance Water, Sun, Shade, Wind, Community, and More

by Brad Lancaster © 2013 www.HarvestingRainwater.com You don’t need to own property to engage with, harvest, cycle, and enhance your local resources—and your potential to live collaboratively with them. Below are some ideas all elaborated upon within the books Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1, 2nd Edition and Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and […]

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January 28, 2013

Stepping Up To Look At, Discuss, and Address Climate Change

by Brad Lancaster © 2013 www.HarvestingRainwater.com Climate change is real, it’s well underway, and we need to step up and make it a major part of the national dialog now, as we all work on solutions. The sooner we act, the easier it will be. The longer we delay, the more dramatically the difficulty increases. […]

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September 22, 2011

Watershed Maps Are Community Maps

by Brad Lancaster © 2011 www.HarvestingRainwater.com A watershed is “that area of land, a bounded hydrological system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community.” — John Wesley Powell Political boundaries are arbitrary. Watershed boundaries […]

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September 14, 2011

Images of Contemporary Water-Harvesting Art

by Brad Lancaster © 2011 www.HarvestingRainwater.com Show the flow. Cycle it. Celebrate it. Know it. And as you do, show others the way. The following three images are installations that I feel show and celebrate the flow. Their beauty lures me in, and invites me to look deeper. See more images in the Contemporary Water-Harvesting […]

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September 4, 2011

Images of Ancient Water-Harvesting Art

by Brad Lancaster © 2011 www.HarvestingRainwater.com There is a tradition of harvesting rainwater in all human-inhabited drylands of the world where it rains (and a great many wet areas that also experience dry seasons). I’ve been very lucky to have been able to travel to, and learn from, some of them. Below are three images. […]

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July 20, 2011

Human-Empowered, Enlightened, and Energized Transport

by Brad Lancaster © 2011 www.HarvestingRainwater.com Years ago at a red light I looked into the car beside me and saw the frowning driver’s hair blowing into the back seat as though she were leaning into a mighty storm. But her windows were up. The gale was coming from her air conditioner—on a beautiful day […]

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July 8, 2011

Roman- and Byzantine-era Cisterns of the Past Reviving Life in the Present

All photos and text by Brad Lancaster, www.HarvestingRainwater.com © 2011 This is number six in a series of Drops in a Bucket Blog posts on Brad Lancaster’s water wanderings in the Middle East; this trip led in part to Volume 1 of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond being translated into Arabic, and Brad’s participation […]

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September 6, 2010

Water Wise Women of Jordan

by Brad Lancaster, www.HarvestingRainwater.com, © 2010 Jordan Valley, Jordan, 2009 One day my guides Mohammed Ayesh of NCARE and Iqbal of JOHUD took me to an oasis. The village we were in was strewn with garbage, and the soil was bare and severely eroded. Houses were made from concrete brick and whatever materials could be […]

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August 23, 2010

Revolving Community Loans for “Water From Allah”

by Brad Lancaster, www.HarvestingRainwater.com, © 2010 Number 4 in a series of Drops in a Bucket blog posts on Brad Lancaster’s and David Eisenberg’s U.S. State Department-sponsored adventures and gleanings in the Middle East Northern Jordan, April 2009 Throughout northern Jordan we visited dynamic villages that were enhancing their quality of life by recycling water […]

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July 24, 2010

Palm Oasis and Red Bread at Al Absaa, Saudi Arabia

by Brad Lancaster, www.HarvestingRainwater.com, © 2010 Number 3 in a series of Drops in a Bucket blog entries on Brad Lancaster’s and David Eisenberg’s U.S. State Department-sponsored adventures and gleanings in the Middle East Al Absaa, Saudi Arabia, April 2009 At Al Absaa we toured irrigation projects within the largest oasis in Saudi Arabia. Over […]

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July 17, 2010

Cisterns of Old Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

or If You Pray for Rain – Harvest It By Brad Lancaster, www.HarvestingRainwater.com, ©2010 Number 2 in a series of Drops in a Bucket blog entries on Brad Lancaster’s and David Eisenberg’s U.S. State Department-sponsored adventures and gleanings in the Middle East Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, April 2009 Most of the water people now drink in […]

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July 7, 2010

Harvesting Air-Conditioning Condensate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Beyond

or If You—and Your Drink—Sweat, Then Harvest Condensate By Brad Lancaster, www.HarvestingRainwater.com, ©2010 I am finally getting to the sharing of my travel gleanings. This is the first of a series to follow – so keep checking back. This piece is from my U.S. State Department-sponsored trip to Jordan and Saudi Arabia in 2009. David […]

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June 29, 2010

Permaculture in Palestine: Guest Blogger Craig Mackintosh

Many thanks to Craig Mackintosh for the permission to repost a portion of his blog entry, enhanced with his own beautiful photographs, describing some of his Middle-Eastern travel experiences and the West Bank’s first PDC, which Murad Alkhuffash, David Spicer, and I just finished teaching. Visit permaculture.org.au/2010/06/30/letters-from-the-west-bank-seeds-of-hope-scattered-from-the-west-banks-first-pdc to read Craig’s blog entry in its entirety. […]

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May 10, 2010

Watergy

By Brad Lancaster © 2010 www.HarvestingRainwater.com Watergy is a term coined to describe the interconnection of water and energy. Every time we consume power we consume water. This is because water is used in the generation of our power – in Arizona this figure ranges from 0.001 to 56 gallons of water per kWh of […]

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April 27, 2010

No-Effort, No-Cost Water Harvesting

By Julia Fonseca Whew, digging swales and basins is hard work!  Gutters and tanks are expensive.  And as the skimpy summer rains of 2009 demonstrated, how do you harvest rain when the rain refuses to fall? Fortunately, there is a way to harvest water, even during droughts.  It costs nothing, and requires no expenditure of […]

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April 6, 2010

Rain Beer

By Brad Lancaster © 2010 www.HarvestingRainwater.com Rainwater is known as “sweet water” throughout much of the world due to its pure “sweet” flavor when compared to brackish, alkaline, chemically-treated, or polluted ground and surface waters. Now it is also known as “beer water.” And folks, it is good – very good. I sampled numerous pints […]

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March 12, 2010

Green Burials

By Brad Lancaster © 2010 Drops in a Bucket Blog, www.HarvestingRainwater.com When I was little I was terrified of death. I often cried myself to sleep as I thought of the end of life. It seemed so bleak, pointless, and severe. Mom tried to comfort me with the concept of going to heaven. This did […]

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July 27, 2009

Garden Hose Dangers and Recommendations

© 2009 Brad Lancaster, www.HarvestingRainwater.com Many garden hoses leach lead and other chemicals into the water as it sits in the hose. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brass fittings are often the culprits. To reduce such risk, purchase, use, and/or drink only from hoses labeled safe for drinking water. Never buy any hose with such labeling […]

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March 24, 2009

Harvesting Urban Drool

How the harvest of urban nuisance runoff is reviving a community

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March 6, 2009

Crushed Rock Landscapes–Bandage on a Larger Problem

Crushed rock or decomposed granite used excessively on landscapes grinds up mountains to spread them out in yards, but there are alternatives.

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January 23, 2009

Australian Water Efficiency Recommendations to U.S. Cities

Recommendations from an Australian delegation touring U.S. cities to share their experiences with water efficiency as a result of prolonged drought

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January 7, 2009

Street Orchards for Community Security

Harvesting street runoff to passively irrigate community orchards and support public celebrations

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December 19, 2008

Check out, and apply for, up to $1,200 in these tax credits for water harvesting systems

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December 14, 2008

Parking Lot to Parking Orchard

A simple retrofit of a parking lot enabling it to harvest water and grow food-producing shade trees.

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August 23, 2008

Farming in the City with Runoff From a Street

How runoff from apartment roofs, a parking lot, and a city street irrigated a bountiful 1-acre city farm

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August 23, 2008

Drops in a Bucket – welcome to my new blog

An introduction

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Upcoming Events

  1. Online Rainwater Harvesting Course

    October 21 - December 5
  2. Water Harvesting Presentation & Book Signing with Brad Lancaster in Silver City, NM

    November 19 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
  3. ARCSA Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada

    December 2 - December 5
  4. Water Harvesting Presentation & Book Signing with Brad Lancaster in Las Vegas, NV

    December 2 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  5. Spring 2020 – Permaculture Design Course, Tucson, AZ

    February 8, 2020


Umbrella Newsletter

The Umbrella: Summer 2019

THE UMBRELLA: A catch-all of resources, events, media, and more from Brad Lancaster   New, full color, revised editions of the award-winning books Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volumes 1 and 2 are now available for order and pre-order!   Buy direct from Brad for big discounts, and to help him fund the creation […]

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