Sunday, April 23, 2023

"Love my rain basin!" campaign

I love my rainwater harvesting basin! 
Most Tucsonans are finally aware that we are in a serious water crisis, but many aren't aware of one of the best solutions available: rainwater harvesting! On a normal year, Tucson gets enough annual rain to provide every Tucsonan's water needs. Since Tucsonans use up to 40% of our water on our landscapes and gardens, collecting rainwater in our yards can go a long way in conserving city water! 

Tucson Water understands that rainwater harvesting and green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) are some of the most impactful actions we can take to save water. The city implemented a GSI policy, now an integral part of their Storm to Shade program. You may have seen curb cuts directing stormwater to native trees along city streets. This program will help us achieve the city's million trees initiative

Tucson Water also encourages customers to harvest the rain in their own yards. In fact, they put their money were their mouth is. They offer a rebate of up to $2000 for installing rainwater harvesting systems. Unfortunately, only about 1% of Tucsonans take advantage of this opportunity. Education is a big factor. 

Rain barrels aren't the only way to harvest the rain. My favorite rainwater harvesting features are the simple catchment basins and berms we use to water our low water trees and plants. During a rainstorm, our catchment basins keep sinking in the water long after our 500 gallon cisterns fill up. Right now, in our front yard, we have several native trees, three jujube trees (Chinese fruit trees) and three moringa trees thriving without any city water - just the water that has been stored under the surface of their mulch covered basins. Did I mention I love my rainwater harvesting catchment basins? 

You might be wondering, "Where are the basins?" Not all basins need to be rock-lined (like those in the Dunbar-Spring neighborhood). Our front yard basins have subtle slopes lined with native bunch grass to prevent erosion and help the water infiltrate.  The organic matter and wood chip mulch holds the moisture longer. A path with red gravel divides the two basins. Our cactus garden and native trees (that need less water) are on the high end of the basins. 

Here's the challenge...

Do you have a catchment basin in your yard? Do you enjoy a lush desert oasis nourished by the rain?  How about sharing that joy? Let's start a campaign! By sharing photos of your basin with your family and friends, we can reach a broader audience than those in my little social media bubble.  

Here's how:

1) Just grab your cell phone and take some lovely pictures of your best rainwater-harvesting catchment basins. (They should be greening up nicely right now.)
2 Share them with your Tucson friends and family in emails or on your personal and neighborhood social media pages.
3) In the subject area above the pic, simply write, "I love my rainwater harvesting basin!" Or "I love my catchment basin because... (fill in the blank) 
4) Include the hashtags:

I'll start the ball rolling with some sample pics of my catchment basins..

Here's a pic of  our basin when it was new and full of woodchip mulch...

Here's that same basin after rain saturated the mulch...

We can keep this campaign going for the different seasons - showing off our basins full of wildflowers in the spring, filled with water during the monsoon season, or even covered with snow in the winter!

Check out our right of way basin. These young moringa trees grew like gangbusters. 

Dan and Pooh measuring how fast one moringa grew in the right of way basin. 

The flowering moringa and the wolfberry are thriving from the rainwater that comes off of the sidewalk and sky... 

Our three jujubes are budding with just the water stored in their own basin.

We already had gutters and a downspout - so Dan just had to dig the basin and plant the jujube trees. The native grasses help to slow down and sink in the water. 

When it rains, I run out into the yard to see how far the water flows in our jujube basin! This time it reached the last tree! The native bunch grass slows down the rushing water. The roots help the water sink into to the basin and hold it like a sponge! 

So I've shown you some of my favorite basin pics. Now it's time to show me yours. Get outside in this gorgeous spring weather and enjoy taking some pics of your inspiring basins. Then post. Easy smeazy. 

When family and friends ask where they can get more information, direct them to Watershed Management Group for their free Rainwater Harvesting Rebate Classes or Sonora Environmental Research Institute (SERI) for the limited income grant and loan program (and their rebate classes.) 

Together we can inspire Tucsonans to enjoy lush desert landscaping while saving municipal water. 

Here's Dan installing our basins...

Finally got my catchment basin!


  1. Thank you for caring- l use feed buckets and dollar store buckets for shrubs and lightly water once a month otherwise l use 2 gallons from my sink for garden flowers daily and keep to the basics

  2. JoAnne in Barrio Hollywood

  3. This is great! I should post some of our pics.. Chris G in NW Tucson.