Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond by Brad Lancaster

Demonstration Sites

A Picasa Web Gallery of Green Infrastructure Public Images from numerous cities

Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF)
Using Rainwater to Grow Sustainable Communities: Sustainable Stormwater Best Management Practices

EPA’s links to Low Impact Development (LID) Resources and Examples


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Tucson & surrounding area

Pima Association of Governments’ Rainwater Harvesting Site Map
One of the cool features of this extensive resource, which is still in its draft phase, is that the map shows the various watersheds and local washes within the city of Tucson. PAG is already working on getting this information presented as a Google-Earth-based tool to make it even easier to use. Meanwhile, Mead Mier, Watershed Planner at PAG, would love to hear your feedback or suggestions for additions if you have input to offer; send an email to mmier@pagnet.org. Click here to view the jpg map in this browser window, here to download the jpeg map, and here to download the accompanying Excel spreadsheet with information about each site. Several of the sites included on this map are also described below.

College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture (CAPLA) building’s landscape, University of Arizona
A wonderful water-harvesting landscape that harvests roof runoff, air-conditioning condensate, drinking-fountain greywater, and well-water ‘blow off’ (backwash from sand filter well) to provide over 90% of the irrigation demand of a landscape featuring the vegetation of five different biomes of the Sonoran Desert.

The Keeling Neighborhood Greenway
Although this greenway has yet to be implemented, the plan can be found at the website below under the “portfolio” section. It includes a lot of passive water harvesting from streets and sidewalks to irrigate native shade trees.

IntegralEarth (formerly HydroGeoWorks)
This website includes slide shows illustrating various water-harvesting sites in the Tucson area, water-resource maps for the Tucson basin, and other related information.

Lancaster residence
See this link for an image gallery of some of our home innovations and strategies, and see Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volumes 1 & 2, for more info on our site and work.

Milagro Cohousing
Milagro means “miracle” in Spanish and it took many miracles for us to make our dream community a reality. We’re proud to have planned and built an award-winning cohousing community of twenty eight energy efficient, passive solar, adobe homes on a 43-acre site in the Tucson mountains – just twelve minutes from downtown Tucson, Arizona. And we are committed to sustaining our green design community in a manner that is friendly to people and the earth. Visit our website for tour information.

The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy’s Tucson Conservation Center’s rainwater-harvesting project includes retrofitting the onsite buildings and the surrounding landscape to capture as much as possible of the approximately 11 inches of annual rainfall on the campus and adjacent areas. The retrofitting involves both active and passive rainwater-harvesting techniques. The Nature Conservancy and its partners see the grounds as a community asset where one can learn about sustainability and common-sense approaches to sustainable design and practices.

Groups may schedule tours by calling (520) 547-3437 or sending an email to dboone@tnc.org.

Rincon Heights Neighborhood
Take a walk or ride through this neighborhood just south of the University of Arizona campus to view the water-harvesting/traffic-calming strategies that have been implemented along Ninth & Tenth Streets between Campbell and Park Avenues. Strategies include stormwater-harvesting curb cuts and traffic-calming/shade-producing native-tree plantings in curb extensions, or “bump-outs.” This project was supported &/or implemented by a partnership between the Rincon Heights Neighborhood Association, Watershed Management Group, University of Arizona, Pima County Neighborhood Reinvestment Program, and local students and volunteers.


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Los Angeles

TreePeople Projects
Features water-harvesting demonstration sites in Los Angeles, California, and the effort to manage the city as a forested watershed.
www.treepeople.org/sites/default/files/pdf/publications/TreePeople – Rainwater_as_a_Resource.pdf

Restoring Los Angeles: Healing the Nature of Our Cities (DVD with Andy Lipkis)
I highly recommend viewing this talk from the 2005 Bioneers Conference. It is an inspiring half-hour presentation on an integrated effort to manage the city of Los Angeles as a forested watershed. Available to view &/or download at:


Occidental Arts and Ecology Center

San Francisco
Plant SF
See their “Featured Projects” page for neighborhood treasures of urban depaving, permeable pavement, and planting projects throughout the city.


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Chicago Green Alley Handbook


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Kansas City area

10,000 Rain Gardens
A public initiative encouraging property owners to create rain gardens, with an eventual goal of 10,000 individual gardens. The idea is to bring widespread use of rain gardens to offset the increasing demand on the city’s stormwater infrastructure.


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Ole and Maitri Ersson’s Home
Ole and Maitri Ersson’s living experiments with Portland’s first permitted potable rainwater harvesting system, composting toilets, small houses and more, are documented here:

Sustainable Stormwater Program
Progressive multi-use water harvesting/beautification/flood control strategies in the public rights-of-way and beyond. Includes permeable paving, water-harvesting curb cuts, bioremediation of toxins, urban forestry, Natural Drainage Systems and more.

Self-guided Tours of Natural Drainage Systems, Water-harvesting, Eco-roofs, and more
If in Portland, download the maps for these walking, bicycling, and driving self-guided tours to check out cool stuff. And if elsewhere, look to these downloadable self-guided tours as models that can be replicated in your community.

Integrated Stormwater/Water-Harvesting Publications developed by the City of Portland


Sustainable Stormwater Management Demonstration Projects/Publications

Rainwater Harvesting Sites, Projects, Permits, Incentives

Water-Harvesting/Traffic Calming Pullouts

Water-Harvesting Green Streets

Community Watershed Stewardship Program
Eco-roofs, water-harvesting swales, restoration projects, urban forestry, and more.

City Repair Project
Great innovations in reclaiming public space with art, creativity, community, and more. Take all this in, then add water-harvesting earthworks and natural drainage systems supporting the associated vegetation and the results can be amazing!

Lower Columbia River Field Guide to Water-Quality-Friendly Development
Website for Strategies and Techniques:
Website for Integrated Site Examples:


Pringle Creek Community
The Pringle Creek Community is a pushing all kinds of sustainable and community building strategies, including harvesting and infiltrating 90% of all runoff on site within the soils.


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Green Stormwater Infrastructure
A range of city-initiated, integrated soil-water-plant systems that control flooding; bring vegetation and other life back into the urban core; clean air, water, and soil; and beautify and shade yards, neighborhoods, parks, parking lots, and public rights-of-ways such as alleys, sidewalks, and streets.

Philadelphia Cleans Up Storm Water With Innovative Program


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Public Utilities SEA Streets Project
Progressive multi-use water harvesting/beautification/flood control strategies in the public rights-of-way.

Broadview Green Grid Natural Drainage Project
Overview of the Broadview Green Grid Natural Drainage Project, Seattle, Washington. Features the multiple integrated benefits of this Natural Drainage Systems (NDS) project spanning 15 blocks of a residential neighborhood.

Growing Vine Street Project
This project is a laboratory for green solutions within an urban design context. The goals are three-fold: to treat roof runoff through biofiltration, to create a refreshing green space for the community, and to reintroduce the natural hydrologic cycle into our urban lives. Includes water-harvesting public art/cisterns, community gardens, urban tree planting, cistern steps, and more.

High Point Project
This multi-income housing/community redevelopment in West Seattle features the largest natural drainage project that the City has undertaken, and the first time that a natural drainage strategy of this scale has been used in such a high density urban setting.

Art and Natural Wetlands at the Renton Sewage Treatment Facility and the new King County Regional Justice Center


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Forest Agriculture Enterprises and the farm of Mark Shepard
This 106-acre farm has an incredible array of water-harvesting features including keyline practices, contour swaling and planting, and snow harvesting with plantings and landforming that both harvest and deflect snow drifts as needed. What’s more, it produces a diverse array of high-quality foods and other products. Click here for an article on the operation.


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Water-Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD)
Progressive multi-use water-harvesting/beautification/flood control strategies in the public rights-of-way and beyond.

The Sustainable House
A townhouse in downtown Sydney, Australia, retrofitted to make it almost entirely self-sufficient in electricity, water, and waste disposal.


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Vancouver Living Streets


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Chennai, India

Akash Ganga Chennai Rain Centre
An urban rainwater harvesting demonstration site. For additional information see “Rainwater Harvesting: Success Story from Chennai India,” report by Ram Krishnan presented at the ARCSA Conference in Austin, Texas, August 21-23, 2003. Order proceedings from www.arcsa-usa.org.

Do you have an addition to this list? Let me know.

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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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