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Jun 14, 2013 2:48 PM by Ryan Haarer

Storing monsoon rains for later

TUCSON - Most people don't realize just how lucky they are to even have water here in Southern Arizona. The water we get here travels over 300 miles from the Colorado River. So preserving the water that's local can be a huge relief on our resources.

"When it's been so hot and so dry for so long, our soil and our land can't really absorb it when it falls. So when it hits it runs off. It runs of fast and it runs off hard. And that creates flooding," said Laurie Richards, docent for the Tucson Botanical Gardens.

"If it rains an inch on a 1,000 square foot roof, you can get 623 gallons of water. Which is a lot of water and you can use that water on our outdoor landscaping. And it's free. Also, no pollutants in it, no chemicals in it," said Richards.

She says there are a wide variety of ways to collect and reuse the water that monsoon brings. It's why the Tucson Botanical Gardens are so green.

"The least you can do is basically watch where the water falls on your land and allow it to stay there."

It's known as passive harvesting by the pros. they use 'earthworks' like rocks or slopes to slow the water down, spread it out, and let it soak into the earth. If nothing else, clean out any drains on your property to avoid pooling and flooding.

"More complex of course is active, where you have cisterns. And the nature conservancy has a huge underground cistern that you can't even see," said Richards.

The Tucson Botanical Garden cistern holds 11,000 gallons. Active water harvesting will obviously cost some money to build an infrastructure, but in time it pays back, to both your wallet and the environment.

The City of Tucson offers a variety of rebates for different levels of water harvesting. More information is available from the city at this link. http://cms3.tucsonaz.gov/water/rwh-rebate

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