Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands

I received a signed copy of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands (Volume 1) from its author Brad Lancaster not long ago. This book is one of the great resources on rainwater harvesting and is only one of three future volumes covering all aspects of capturing rain. The awareness I brought away after reading it is that my focus has always been on capturing rain from rooftops, Brad shows us how to maximize the rainwater capturing potential of the land. Here is my interview with Brad Landcaster.

You have written a great first volume on rainwater harvesting, would it be correct to say that volume 1 is more about rainwater management? Give us a quick rundown of planned volumes 2 and 3 and what each will cover.

  • Volume 1 covers rainwater harvesting and water and watershed management in a way that is easily and joyfully attainable for all of us. Volume 1 is the core of my three books, and it lays down the foundation for readers to conceptualize an integrated system that will maximize their site’s potential and efficiency well beyond just water savings and harvesting, while greatly decreasing the likelihood of mistakes.
  • Volume 2 covers specific step by step implementation of water-harvesting earthworks.
  • Volume 3 covers roof catchment and cistern systems. More specifics are available on my website.

When did you first get interested in rainwater harvesting and management?

I first became aware of a more sustainable and common sense approach to water management during my college studies in the 1980s when I realized how quickly Arizona and my hometown of Tucson were rapidly depleting their fresh water resources. I saw that we were killing the long term viability of our communities and ecosystems. I did not want to be a part of the problem. I wanted to be part of the solution.

I did not figure out how I could contribute to the solution until I learned of rainwater harvesting and sustainable living and design strategies in a permaculture course in the early 1990s. Permaculture is a method of integrated sustainable design based on natural systems.

Learning how to be part of the solution further crystalized for me when I visited the Water Farmer in Zimbabwe. The inspirational story of how he turned a wasteland into an oasis by harvesting the rain, and depositing more water into his watershed than he took out is the core of Chapter 1 of my book “Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands, Volume 1”. He warned me not to run from problems, but to face them and make the needed changes in my own life. Living the example I wanted to live would have the greatest effect to bring on positive change and solutions.

Thus, I came home and strove to put more water into my watershed than I took out. And I too created a sustainable oasis on what was once a wasteland of an urban lot in downtown Tucson. I did it by following the water harvesting principles laid out in my book, and it has reaped many benefits including onsite organic food production, and increadible drop in my utility bills and cost of living, a beautiful award-winning landscape and garden, and a richer community in which the abundance of water harvesting is spreading. I tell more of the story, and how others can do the same in urban, suburban, or rural lots in my book “Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands, Volume 1.”

What is it like writing 3 books and where did you get all those great illustrations?

It is far, far more work than I ever would have imagined. The project began 7 years ago, with the 3 last years consuming well over full time hours of work. But once I started I could not stop. I wanted to create the water harvesting resource or tool box I wish I had when I began water harvesting. I wanted a resource that would empower readers to do the maximum good with simple, but very effective strategies in their own homes, yards, and communities. With all three volumes, I’ve done it.

I try to empower my community in many ways not just with water. In that vein, I hired all local artists all friends and fellow water harvesters too. We worked together for a long time to create the illustrations throughout all three volumes.

I noticed that 10% of the profits generated with these books will go to the “Regenerative Fund” and what is the “Green Press Initiative”?

The Regenerative Fund is a mechanism I’ve created to get more on the ground examples of sustainable water haresting, because people “get it” fastest when they see it in person, in action, in life.

The Green Press Inititative is an effort to lessen the consumption of our forests a major living component of our watersheds in the production of books by promoting the use of recycled paper. I am a part of this effort, and all my books are printed on paper that is at least 50% post consumer recycled paper.

I see you have worked on all kinds of sustainable projects can you tell us about some of these?

I’ve helped create water-harvesting landscapes for many project including Milagro co-housing in Tucson where all stormwater is harvested on-site within water harvesting earthworks that are the foundation of the landscape. A huge amount of food is produced on site, while enhancing much of the native flora and fauna too.

Another project, Desert Harvesters, promotes the sustainable planting, growing, harvesting, processing, and eating of native plant foods. At the core of the project are mesquite pods millings and mesquite pancake chow downs with prickly pear syrup – see Desert Harvester for more.

And as to more of my projects, well, read my books and visit my website www.HarvestingRainwater.com.

Where can we purchase your books?

My website www.HarvestingRainwater.com, any bookstore (just order it), or your local library (if you request that they carry it). You can also obtain it at my water harvesting presentations and book signings look to the events page of my website for details.

Thanks for stopping in for a chat Brad, I am looking forward to landscaping my small urban lot to better capture the rain this spring. We will also be looking forward to volumes 2 and 3 – thanks!



Posted in Books by Administrator on April 17, 2006.

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