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Harvest Rainwater With A Wooden Water Storage Tank You Build Yourself

Wooden CisternThe tank is the biggest expense of any rainwater catchment system. Many parts of a system can be installed or built by a handy Do It Yourselfer (DIY), but not the tank - until now. With this handy guide you can build yourself a beautiful wooden cistern that with proper care will last for decades.

Not satisfied with plastic or galvanized steel water storage tanks? This eBook answers all those nagging questions about how to save money by building your own storage system. >> more

Water Reuse to Irrigate

Turf MagazineReducing the amount of water used for landscape irrigation is challenging, yet extremely important to the drought affected areas of the U.S. Landscape watering needs within the U.S. vary greatly based on many different factors: local climate, soil conditions, native plants, plant selection, and micro-climates on the site. In many locales, rainfall can be nature’s irrigation system, while in drought affected areas precious potable water provides most of the source for landscape irrigation. Yet even with these differences, saving water is very possible. In most cases, simple changes can result in water savings between 10% to 20%. By reusing water, savings of 50% to 100% are achievable. >> more

Multiple Floats - When, Why and How

Float animation screenshotFloats are the most common method of managing water levels in tanks. In the first article on floats, I reviewed how floats work and the role floats play in managing water levels in a tank. A previous article explored how floats can help manage water levels (i.e. Floats – Why, When and Where). This article will explore how multiple floats can be used to manage more complex systems. >> more

Heating Water with the Sun

Heating water directly with solar thermal panels or heating water by generating electricity through photovoltaic (PV) panels and then using this electricity to heat water are two ways to reduce your reliance on the grid and your water footprint. Why choose one over the other? This article will explore these questions and more. >> more

New Generation Water Summit 2021

The 4th Annual Next Generation Water Summit (NGWS) is quickly approaching. It is June 2nd - 4th from 8:30 - 1:00. This year's event with be all online! The NGWS will feature notable water speakers from around the country. Additionally, it will feature a host of workshops. The kickoff keynote address will be by Professor Katharine Hayhoe, The Nature Conservancy’s Chief Scientist and 2019 United Nations Champion of the Earth award winner. >> more

Irrigating with Rainwater - Filter It First

Although rain is almost pure, it needs filtration for every use including irrigation. Although in the sky rainwater is relatively clean, it is not by the time it reaches your irrigation system. Your roof, your conveyance system, your tanks all add contaminants to your rainwater that need to be removed prior to using it in your irrigation system. >> more

Don't Forget the Pipe

Corrugated Pipe

The conveyance in a large alternative reuse water is accomplished through piping. Both the inflow and the overflow to and out of the storage system use a variety of piping. Which options are the best and why? Complicating matters... >> more


Potable Rainwater: Filtration and Purification

Rainwater harvesting is viewed by many, including the EPA, as a partial solution to the problems posed by water scarcity: droughts and desertification, erosion from runoff, over-reliance on depleted aquifers, and the costs of new irrigation, diversion, and water treatment facilities. Harvested rainwater in the U.S. is used mostly for irrigation; however, there is a growing interest in using rainwater for drinking and other indoor uses. >> more

Wicks - Another Storage Option

When we hear the term below-ground water storage, a buried cistern is what usually comes to mind. Yet there is another approach that has been used for centuries — a water wick. These structures hold water and release it slowly over time. They are also commonly known as Watson wicks or pumice wicks. >> more

Virtual Water: The Next Frontier

Water science is moving forward at an accelerating pace. With population growth and the end of plentiful, cheap water, the need to understand our water use and how to conserve water is now the topic of daily news and a common discussion item. >> more

Once is Never Enough, Use it Twice

There are numerous ways to make your water go further these days. One easy but often overlooked method to cut your water bill is to use your water twice. Unlike electricity, water can be reused over and over again. Installing a greywater system is one way to stretch your gallons.>> more

2019 Next Generation Water Summit - Don't Miss Out

Keynoter: Jonathan Overpeck

It is time to plan a trip to beautiful Santa Fe, NM for the 3rd Annual Next Generation Water Summit (NGWS). This year’s event, like the previous ones, will feature some of the most notable water speakers in the country. Additionally, it will feature a host of workshops and networking events. >> more

Gray Water: The New Green

Gray water has been around for decades. It is the recycling and reuse of waste-water from the shower, tub, clothes washer, bathroom sinks, floor drains for onsite use. This volume of water can sometimes be up to 50 percent of the water consumed inside a typical house. Gray water can easily amount to over 20,000 gallons a month! >> more

Floats - What, When, WherePicture of float

Floats are the most common and simplest way to control or monitor a rainwater, greywater or blackwater system. They can be thought of as a simple on/off switch, but can do much, much more. Floats are a closed ball with an electrical wire attached. Inside the ball is simply an electrical contact. Floats are tethered to something in a tank (i.e. the pump or a pole) and float on the fluid in the tank. If there is no liquid, they hang as pictured (i.e. this is typically referred to as float down) If there is liquid in the tank than this device would float on top of the liquid (i.e. referred to as float up). >> more

Role of Residential Irrigation Water Audit

How much water can I save? Where is the easiest and least expensive place to save? Should I look inside or out? These are just a few of the questions that can be answered by a irrigation water audit. A water audit provides a thorough inventory of where water is being used, both indoors and outdoors. A comprehensive professional water audit will offer this and a variety of recommendations on how to reduce water use. >> more

What Water is Right For What Use?

Water Drop With Ripple Clip ArtWater, water everywhere but what is right for me? With water we do have lots of choice and not all are created equal. You are probably wondering what I am talking about. What choices, what water?

Of course there is city water that most of us utilize abundantly. But we also have rainwater, greywater, and blackwater. All of these are potential sources of water that could be used to drive our net water use to zero or better - help us to become a net producer of water.

>> more

Next Generation Water Summit

Ed Marzia Keynote AddressBeautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico will reprise its role as host of the Next Generation Water Summit (NGWS) this April. The inaugural NGWS, held last year, was conceived to be the first of its kind, an event directed to three distinct professional cohorts: the building, design, and architectural community; water policy and delivery professionals; water harvesting, water conservation, and re-use experts, all connected through the issue of water scarcity in the West. >> more

How Full is My TankExternal Gauge.jpg

It is such a simple question, but sometimes not an easy question to answer. Fortunately, today there are many varieties of depth gauge options for buried and above ground tanks – from home made to high-end multi-function electronic devices. A quick review on some of the alternatives that are available may help you choose which device is best for your needs. >> more


Smart Money is on Smart Controllers

WaterSense Smart ControllerOur landscape varies greatly - yard to yard, city to city, and region to region. All landscapes require some attention, especially when newly planted. In times of drought even xeric-tolerant plants will require some amount of water to survive. Too much water and roots will become water logged and potentially kill the plant and too little water and the plants will wilt and die. It is a balance on how much is just right. With changing weather patterns it is becoming an even more challenging job maintaining our landscapes. >> more

Where Do I Start?

There are hundreds of parts in a typical-sized rainwater harvesting system. With time and research most aspects of a rain water harvesting system can be figured out. The article and tools it links to will help you get started. >> more

The Next Generation Water Summit

The City of Santa Fe is also going to host the upcoming Next Generation Water Summit. This conference will highlight Santa Fe’s leadership role as well as bring together other water leaders from the West in stormwater management, water reuse, and water efficiency. >> more

Protect Your Rainwater Harvesting System Investment

There is nothing worse than spending time and money planning and installing a valuable asset and then having it destroyed or break due to lack of maintenance. Kind of like going to the dentist and having a tooth pulled because you didn’t floss. In an earlier article I discussed tanks freezing and what can be done to prevent this from occurring. In this article, I will discuss the other elements of a system and what can be done to prevent them from freezing. >> more

Water Treatment - Good, Better, Best

UV LEDEvidence of water treatment has been found in ancient Greek and Sanskrit writings dating back to 2000 BC when boiling and physical filtration were the only methods known. At the time, water was only treated so it would taste better. Water safety did not become a concern until the 1670s when the invention of the microscope equipped scientists to view microorganisms in supposedly ‘clean’ water. >> more

How Large a Tank is Right for Me?Rectangular Tank

Once you have decided you want to capture rainwater, the question of how big a tank you shoud install is your next decision. This simple question leads to many other variables to be taken into consideration prior to designing or installing your rainwater catchment system. Rainwater supply is the easy part of the equation. How large a tank is a harder question to answer. The rationale for installing a rainwater harvesting system is different and consequently there is no one answer on how big your tank should be. >> more

How Low Can We Go?

Conserve WaterSanta Fe continues to decrease our Gallons Per Capita (i.e. Person) Per Day (GPCD). As a community we are now under 100 GPCD. We are also one of the leading cities in the country in this measure. We can all be proud of our efforts to conserve water. However, several European countries are in the 60-70 GPCD range. So obviously there is room for improvement. But how low can we go? >> more

Codes - A Major Step Forward

The 2012 Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) in is now being adopted across the country. In May of 2015, the State of New Mexico upgraded to this new code and other states are following. The olded code that New Mexico had been operating under was the UPC 2009 plumbing code. Although this may seem like a small step, it is in actuality a large step forward, especially when it comes to water. >> more

Conserving Water by Mimicking Mother Nature

Healthy SoilOne of the biggest potable water uses is outdoor irrigation. There are many mechanical and active ways to reduce this water use but maintaining healthy soil has not been talked about as a popular method. For example, installing a rainwater harvesting system, installing a gray water system, upgrading your irrigation system with rain and moisture sensors; replacing plants with more drought-tolerant ones; or simply adding a few more inches of mulch around your plants are popular methods. These are all great improvements and all will definitely result in a lower water bill. >> more


Zero Runoff Should Be Our Goal

Water is one of our most precious resources. Studies show that without drinking water we go into shock (last stage of dehydration) within one hour in extreme heat or three to five days in normal conditions. Water is a precious resource and yet we allow it to flow away. >> more

Pumping Uphill for FREE

Pumping water uphill can be “almost free” when you using photovoltaic (PV) panels and DC pumps. This can be a great convenience if you happen to live on a hilly lot where it might be cost prohibitive to run electricity to a tank or you really want to reduce your reliance on the grid. Let gravity do the work. >> more

WERS Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS) Program Wins Sustainable Santa Fe Award

The City of Santa Fe’s Sustainable Santa Fe Commission recently announced that the Water Efficiency Rating Score’s Development Team won a Sustainable Santa Fe Award. The Commission bestowed the honor in the “Water Adaptation” category for “developing an accurate and flexible tool to drive water conservation in measurable ways”. >> more

Do It Yourself Guide

This site has hundreds of articles on rainwater harvesting. But where to start? This is the right page for those that want to design and install a system on your own.

There are hundreds of parts in a typical-sized rainwater harvesting system and with time and research most aspects of a rain water harvesting system can be figured out. The tools on this page will help you get started. >> more

Capture and Learn

One day rainwater systems will be a standard feature of building construction just like indoor plumbing. It begins with relearning what is necessary and normal. We no longer allow buildings without indoor plumbing and in the future it will be the same for rainwater systems. Today, many schools ranging from kindergarten to college are installing rainwater harvesting systems. These systems are designed to capture rain water from the roofs and then store the water for future use. This is happening in our local Santa Fe Public Schools; a great place for rainwater systems. >> more

Rainwater: Good water with unlimited uses

For millennia, humans used rainwater for a variety of purposes including drinking, washing and irrigation. Yet these days, rainwater can be highly polluted and not suitable for use. Still, it is one of our purest sources for water and with the right treatment, it has many uses. When rain falls onto a polluted roadway or it becomes contaminated with everything it touches. But before it hits the ground, rainwater is relatively pure. Compared to well water (i.e., groundwater), which is typically very high in minerals, rainwater is cleaner and easier to purify. And unlike the water in lakes and streams (i.e., surface water), rainwater contains no pharmaceuticals, minerals or pollutants.>> more

Book Review: Your Water Footprint

Water science is continually moving forward at a faster and faster pace these days. With population growth and the end of easy, cheap water the need to understand our water usage and how to reduce it is becoming a daily news and discussion item. Your Water Footprint - The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use to Make Everyday Products by Stephen Leahy is a great example of a book that is shining the light on the impact we are having on the world's limited fresh water supply. utside the house. >> more

Outside In and Inside Out

Harvested rainwater is used predominantly for irrigation and occasionally, with treatment, for drinking water. There are other uses, too, but most of the time, this pure and precious resource is allowed to just run down the street. We need to rethink how we use this limited resource by exploring ways to use and reuse outside water inside the house and inside water outside the house. >> more

A Review of the City of Santa Fe Water Conservation Rebate Program

This first-time ever long-term rebate study analyzes the costs and benefits of water conservation rebates. It finds that water conservation rebates can be cost effective at saving water for utilities and consumers if designed properly. >> more

Greywater Gone Wild

Reusing greywater is a great way to conserve water. It also has some nice advantages —one can accurately predict the quantity a system will produce, plus it is rich in nutrients, which is great for landscaping. As a reminder, greywater is all water leaving the house that is not from the toilets or the kitchen. >> more

Bladders – Another Storage Option

The tank is the most expensive component of a rainwater harvesting system. This is true whether the tank is above ground or below ground. Consequently, many people opt to undersize the tank in order to save money. Fortunately, there are alternatives to solid-walled tanks that can reduce the cost of a system. >> more

The Big Thirst

The Big Thirst - The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water is a good read for those interested in learning more about our global water crisis. It offers stories from around the globe of both water shortages as well as water successes. From Las Vegas to Australia to Spain to Italy to Atlanta; engaging stories on how water is being used and how municipalities are struggling to meet surging water demands. >> more

Space Heating for Free

Most projects I design are fairly standard rainwater or thermal solar systems, but every now and then I get to design one that is far from routine. One such project involved space heating a small master bathroom for a local couple who cares a great deal about living a small energy footprint.A small electric heater would suffice for most folks. But this couple, who get monthly checks from PNM >> more

Water: Manage It or Lose It

There are many ways to save water — conservation, passive rainwater catchment, onsite recycling (i.e., greywater) and active rainwater catchment. All of these methods require that you actively manage your water use, as opposed to just paying your bill each month and not thinking about how much water you use. >> more

Comparing Rainwater Storage Options

Storage tanks, usually the most expensive component of the rainwater harvesting system, come in a wide variety of sizes and types. When deciding on the type of tank to use, the main factors to consider include where you live and your budget. >> more

Rainbarrels - A Great Place to Start

These days rain barrels are very easy to acquire for catching the rain. Most garden and landscape stores stock them in a wide variety of colors, sizes and shapes. Not only can sizes and materials vary but also the design. Gone are the days of plain, brown or green food-grade barrels. >> more

Save Energy, Save Water, and Be Smart About It

Many of us want to live more sustainably and yet feel overwhelmed by the many options and conflicting views that are out there. Should I install a photovoltaic system, a rainwater harvesting system, a geothermal or solar thermal system? All are good options and if done properly will increase your water/energy security, save dollars over the long term, and help reduce your carbon/water footprint. Many of us are not fortunate enough to do them all so we have to prioritize. And to do that, we need information. Water and energy audits are a great way to start. >> more

Residential Gutters

Gutter sizing is an aspect of rainwater collection that has been studied extensively and can be calculated based on published guidelines in the plumbing codes. For example, the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) recommends that a gutter system be able to carry the runoff of the heaviest 60 minute downpour recorded in the last 100 years. >> more

UV and Carbon Filtration - A Common Oversight

Many rainwater harvesting systems used for drinking water rely on a combination of sediment filters, carbon filters and ultraviolet (UV) light to remove all unhealthy impurities and ensure the water is potable. This common water purification system has proven effective for decades; however, it is not equally effective in all systems. >> more

Is Rainwater Harvesting a Good Investment?

Is harvesting rainwater a good investment? We will explore that question in depth in this three-part series, beginning in Part One with a traditional economic payback approach. The short answer is, yes, >> more

Tanks Can Be Beautiful

Culvert PictureThe award-winning home of Frank Herdman and Alice Temple proves that rainwater catchment tanks can add both beauty and functionality to a home’s design. Frank and Alice fell in love years ago with their Casa Solana Santa Fe neighborhood. They bought a fixer-upper Stamm house with poor natural lighting, low ceilings, and a small, broken-up floor plan and turned it into their dream home with natural lighting and a thoroughly contemporary design. >> more

Passive versus Active Rainwater Harvesting

There is wide spread interest in water conservation and specifically in capturing and rainwater harvesting in both residential and commercial buildings to reduce costs, reduce the environmental impact of the building and lessen the load on the municipal sewer and stormwater systems in the arid southwest where droughts are a way of life. Harvesting rainwater from rooftops is one solutions to conserving our precious water, where it can be used instead of municipal drinking water for many non-drinking water (i.e. non-potable) applications (e.g. landscape, toilet flushing) as well as drinking water. There are two general types of rainwater catchment systems - "active" or "passive". >> more

Rainwater Harvesting System Integrated into Home Design

This rainwater harvesting (RWH) system, with an above-ground, 7,500 gallon (usable) poured-concrete cistern, used for both potable and nonpotable purposes, was designed and constructed in 2001 as an integral part of a new single-family home in Key Largo, Florida. Rain is collected from a 1,700 square-foot white Galvalume roof and gathered in six-inch copper gutters with spash shields at roof valleys for occasional heavy downpours. Copper plumbing is used throughout the house as well. >> more

Rainwater Catchment System Pump Sizing

Pumps are an integral part of almost all rainwater catchment systems; however, sizing a pump correctly is not straightforward and installers often fail to make the appropriate calculations. Much has been written on pumps for irrigation systems and for wells, but rainwater harvesting pumps can be markedly different. This series of articles is aimed at shedding light on the differences and assisting in properly sizing rainwater pumps. This first article will explain pumps and general pumping concepts >> more

Free Rain, Free Watering and Exercise All in One

Pedaling to Pump Water

Always looking to do more with less? Like help the environment and getting exercise at the same time? Well Larry Gilg did, and he found a way: "I hooked a water pump to a bicycle trainer and use it to pump water out of my rainwater system." Watering his yard, totally for FREE and getting exercise at the same time. >> more

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