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Tohono Chul Sin Aguas Garden passive water-harvesting demonstration

This is a water-harvesting demonstration garden within the larger Tohono Chul Gardens. Gravity distributes parking lot and roof runoff to an irrigation ditch with gates that control which vegetated basins receive the runoff.

Parking lot stormwater runoff enters the Sin Aguas Garden via this irrigation ditch. Pipe on bottom left can allow flow into basin on left. Metal gates in the irrigation ditch can stop or slow the ditch flow in order to direct more water into pipes delivering water to various vegetated basins.
Photo: Brad Lancaster 8-22-2008.

The Sin Aguas Garden is planted within water-harvesting earthworks that capture stormwater runoff from a parking lot on the east end of the Park. This can provide all the needed water for appropriate dryland crops/plantings. But here, perhaps to maintain a lush appearance even in dry times and drought, plantings are also supplementary irrigated with a drip irrigation system hooked up to municipal water supply.

The water-harvesting earthworks of the Tohono Chul Sin Aguas Garden was designed by Russ Buhrow, who in the 1980s farmed a productive 1-acre farm irrigated solely with passively harvested rainwater and stormwater from an apartment complex roof, parking lot, and city street.

For more information on the Sin Aguas Garden see:


7366 N Paseo Del Norte, Tucson, AZ 85704
32.33918586488728, -110.98094667308328

Hours: 8am – 5pm daily

Cost: Adult $15, children (age 5-12) $6 (under 5) free

parking lot and stormwater harvestingpassive water harvesting in soil and vegetationrainwater harvestingstreet and stormwater harvesting

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Book Cover #1

Volume 1

THE book to get you started. Shows you how to assess your free on-site waters, then create an integrated plan to harvest them.

Easy calculations provided to estimate the volume of your free on-site waters, plus a plant appendix with simple calculations to estimate the water needs of your plants, so you can set up systems whereby your plants can be irrigated solely by free on-site waters once established.

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Book Cover #2

Volume 2

This book gives you step-by-step instructions for multiple types of water-harvesting earthworks or rain gardens for a diverse array of different contexts.

Also has  a chapter devoted to how to create gravity-fed greywater harvesting systems, and an appendix on how to harvest your dark greywater (kitchen sink drain water).

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