Sunday, March 25, 2007

Water Harvesting

Rain water harvesting, grey water use, sustainability, and living "off the grid" are hot topics out here is the Southwest. Since I love gardening but feel guilty about using ground water to water plants, I am very interested in using the grey water and rain water to turn my wasteland of a yard into an oasis.

In February, I had the good fortune to attend a rain water harvesting workshop, sponsored by the Stone Curves Co-Housing Neighborhood. The Stone Curves folks acquired a grant to fund a series of hands-on cistern building workshops. For a nominal fee, about 12 of us spent 2 Saturdays building 2 cisterns and learning about rain water harvesting and gardening techniques.

The first day focused on construction of 2 cisterns and installation of related plumbing. The second day focused on digging catchment basisns and landscaping.

Kevin Koch, owner of Technicians for Sustainability, conducted the construction class. (Kevin is wearing the large straw hat in the two photos above.)

Brad Lancaster, local sustainability celeb and author, taught the groundworks workshop (above). His book, Rain Water Harvesting for Day Lands, is a marvelous resource for anyone interested in this topic. Check out Brad's and Kevin's websites if you want to learn more about cisterns and groundworks landscaping techniques.

Ironically, only a few days after the rain water harvesting workshop, I spent a few days at the Phoenician in Phoenix on business. The neon green grass, heated pools, fake streams, golf courses, and fountains of the Phoenician are obscene. Surrounded by acres of wasted water and energy, it was extremely difficult to enjoy my stay. In the morning, it was a nippy 45 degrees F, but the Phoenician's 6 swimming pools were heated to the temperature of bath water. Immediately below is a picture of the terraced gardens at Stone Curves. Contrast that with a shot of the Phoenician at the bottom. When will Phoenicians realize that they live in the desert--not the tropics?

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