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City of Tucson encouraging citizens to harvest rainwater

Posted at 12:24 PM, Jul 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-15 15:24:37-04

Harvesting the rain seems like a no-brainer, especially these days. Using rainwater that has fallen freely from the sky, typically onto the roof of your home can be an efficient way to water your plants or fill up your pool. Yet there are still many questions: is it too expensive? What are the pros and cons?

What is clear is that our state continues to be in a drought. As of late May, 97% of Arizona is in severe drought. Extreme drought now covers 73% of the state and 16% of Arizona is classified under exceptional drought, which is the worst drought category.

According to water experts in Tucson, there might be a solution for the drought, that will continue: rainwater harvesting. Several thousand residents are currently harvesting water, city officials said. The City of Tucson is encouraging rainwater harvesting. Since 2010, city law requires at least half of the landscaping for any new building using rainwater. The city offers up to a $2,000 one-time rebate for rain harvesting systems at homes and businesses, a one dollar per gallon rebate. In fact, many people who have a harvesting system argue the incentives offered by the city is what helped them any time to install a cistern. More information here.

Michael Conway and his wife live on the east side. In their backyard, you'll find lots of plants, trees, shrubs, a vegetable garden and a pool. His backyard is completely irrigated by stormwater, captured from the street by an eight-inch pipe and used to fill an 860-gallon tank. They installed the tank in their backyard two years ago. "Any time we can take advantage of the monsoon, and fill this tank we will do it," Conway said. He says he and his wife heard about the city's water harvesting rebate class and decided to enroll. "They basically walk you through the entire process of what it takes to use effectively," he said. He, like many other residents KGUN9 spoke with, agreed he was convinced to install a cistern by the city's amazing incentives. The family was reimbursed $860 for their 860-gallon tank.

Lincoln Perino works for Watershed Management Group, he installs water cisterns. He says June and July are the busiest times of year for them, right before the start of monsoon. "People are thinking about the upcoming rains, in their yards doing work and so they are thinking about it," Perino said.

A cistern installation usually takes 3 to 4 days, so if you want to get one installed before monsoon ends, you may be out of luck this year. However, you can call (520) 396-3266 at anytime to set up an appointment. The initial cost may be steep but over time you'll reap the benefits while helping the environment.