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It is easy in this day and age to question why anybody should do any “extra work”, anything beyond ones duties, when those duties are already overbearing on everyone’s schedule.

It is however in times like these, with a drought in full effect and threatening to last a few more seasons, that we might all be a little more willing to look at alternatives.

I remember learning about the natural water cycles when I was in elementary school.


Image from USGS website

Do you remember? When we were shown how water evaporates from the soil, from the ocean, streams and plants themselves (evapotranspiration), it collects in the air and when it reaches certain conditions it organizes itself into clouds, it condenses, it rains and then seeps into the ground, hence recharging the underground aquifer and starting the whole process all over again.

Of course this is a very simplified version of the complex weather systems that surround us. When thinking back to that simple scheme, however, it is easy to identify where in today’s urban layout and developing cities there is no more space for the water to “seep” back into the soil. Due to the large amounts of roof areas and pavement covering streets and parking lots, in fact, one of the main elements of urban design these days has to do with “storm water management”. Its function is to prevent flooding from happening and therefore it directs, re-directs and concentrates water into larger and larger volumes. All this calls for ever-growing water drainage channels ultimately, and ideally, discharging into the ocean.

The main problem with this practice is that it disrupts the normal local cycle the water would usually circulate in because it is taking water away from the area and discharges it sometimes tens of miles away from the area it fell in. In addition, along the discharge pathway it tends to collect numerous pollutants and concentrating all of them at its point of discharge, in the ocean or other water stream.

How would the urban landscape change if water were allowed to infiltrate the ground in specific and designated areas? Would there perhaps be more vegetation? Would it reduce the funds directed to drainage projects. That could drastically improve the aesthetic and overall experience of cities.

And how would your life be affected if you participated in this practice and collected a lot of the water that fell within your sphere of living?

In a time of drought emergency many municipalities try reducing the overall amounts of water used. That usually translates into restrictions to the customer’s usage and in extreme cases even fines for watering landscapes. So, the first thing to be affected is the landscape. And how much have you invested in your landscape? I bet nobody really likes to see that investment wither and wilt along with each plant.

So here are the reasons why everyone should be interested in, not just saving water, but collecting it.

  • It will allow water to be stored into the ground, where, when properly mulched and covered, it will be available to the plants in the long term (even well into dry periods).
  • In ground storage ultimately reduces the amount of required watering on a regular basis, hence reducing your water bill in normal times.
  • It can help keep your landscape alive even in a time of water shortage (protecting your investment).
  • If you collect the water in cisterns you can also control and distribute the water based on your landscape needs.
  • It reduces the amount of water running off your property lightening the load on drainage channels.
  • It reduces the amount of pollutants reaching the ocean or other water stream.
  • Maximized efficiency: collecting and using resources at point of “delivery” (without exporting “storm” water and importing “sprinkler” water for a price).
  • Cleaner water (no chemicals added as in many municipalities).
  • Replenishing aquifers (that some municipalities rely on).

Water is life. Keeping local water closer to home would contribute in enhancing your life and improve the aesthetic and overall experience of your surroundings.

Next time you consider implementing projects around your home or commercial property don’t forget to consider adding a rain water collection system.

Article Source: Drought and the Wisdom of Collecting Water –