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Rainwater Harvesting

Photographer: Greta Olivas

Water is scarce in the Texas Hill Country. With our drought-and-flood climate and stressed water supply, alternatives to traditional water project development can help increase reliability, conserve resources and protect the environment. An effective, desirable and responsible alternative is rainwater harvesting.

We value rainwater for its purity and softness. Groundwater, aside from being a limited resource, can be "hard,” coating dishes, plumbing, hair and clothes with mineral residue. Often, hard water doesn't even taste or smell good.

A properly designed and installed rainwater harvesting system can provide clear, safe water for potable and non-potable use, especially for landscaping and other outdoor needs. In addition to providing high-quality water, a rainwater system is actually highly drought tolerant. Because it collects the rain so efficiently, even a light rain can make a big contribution to your water storage! Most of the costs are up-front, covering installation, although regular maintenance is required.

Unlike groundwater pumping, rainwater harvesting does not use a lot of energy. Generally, rainwater is collected from a house’s roof and filtered into a storage container. One inch of rain drops more than 1,000 gallons of water on a 2,000-square-foot roof! You can use the Texas A&M Rainwater Calculator to estimate how much rainwater you could collect at your house.



Rainwater Revival


Save the Date: October 25, 2014 in Dripping Springs
HCA is the proud host of the Rainwater Revival, a festive day held each Fall filled with informative and entertaining presentations by professionals and users of rainwater, water conservation-related business vendor booths, rainwater system displays, and plenty of experts to provide guidance and services; as well as food booths, shopping, live music, plus much more! http://www.rainwaterrevival.com

Rainwater Revival Presentations: View presentations from HCA's annual Rainwater Revival


Upcoming Events:

October 25 in Dripping Springs - HCA's 5th Annual Rainwater Revival! - Details

Recent News:

June 30, 2014

Rainwater harvesting communities find fertile ground in Hill Country

While traditional developers scramble for scarce water resources, sustainable development in the Hill Country is happening right under our noses. Several water-neutral projects incorporating rainwater harvesting systems are in progress and more are in the planning stages. With proper consideration and non-invasive infrastructure, the Hill Country gets enough rain even - in the worst drought year - to supply a home’s water needs. Local builder and The Hill Country Alliance’s own Paul Sumrall is featured in the following Austin American Statesman news story written by Andra Lin. Click here to read.

June 20, 2014

Rainwater harvesting: simple idea, big benefits

Installing a rainwater collection system costs about the same or less than drilling a well but offers multiple advantages, making it the more economical and environmentally-friendly choice in the long run. Most importantly, rainwater collection systems do not deplete underlying aquifers the way wells do, making them much more reliable sources of water. Read more from the Hondo Anvil Herald.

June 4, 2014

Rainwater harvesting ‘soaking in’ as way to conserve Texas’ water resources

After a long dry period, many parts of the state have finally received some badly needed rain, and those with rainwater harvesting systems have been reaping the rewards of this belated gift from Mother Nature, said Texas A&M AgriLife water resources experts. Read more

June 3, 2014

Three Hill Country Schools Win Rainwater Revival Grants to Fund Water Conservation Projects

Impressed by the quality of proposals for its rainwater harvesting and conservation grant program, the Hill Country Alliance is awarding three – instead of the planned two – $1,000 grants to Hill Country schools to help teachers and students design and implement water-saving techniques. Read more

May 28, 2014

Award-winning rainwater capture system crowning achievement of retiring Bandera High teacher

Congratulations to Brad Flink, who’s RWH project was honored by the Texas Water Development Board with its Texas Rain Catcher Award. HCA’s Rainwater Revival grant program provided support to document this project and create a model for other campuses. The stormwater retention and reuse system created by students is capable of holding 84,000 gallons for irrigating the Bulldogs' baseball field. Read more from Zeke MacCormak and the SA Express News.

Read more Rainwater Harvesting news and find upcoming events.


Hill Country View Segments

Hydro Illogical Cycles – When It Rains
Innovative Water Conservation
Rainwater Harvesting

Helpful Documents

Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting Printed in 2005 by the Texas Water Development Board
Rainwater Revival Presentations - View presentations from HCA's annual Rainwater Revival
Rainwater Harvesting as a Development-wide Water Supply
Integrative Water Management and Conservation Development: Alternatives for the Central Texas Hill Country - Written in 2004 by Dr. Kent Butler, this analysis of water management strategies for the Hill Country will “shape the future of the region in terms of water use, cost of living, water quality, and landscape/environmental stress.”
UGRA Rainwater Catchment Rebate - Information on the newly implemented UGRA Rainwater Catchment rebate program
2010 TWDB Rain Catcher Awards
A Simple Lesson about Rainwater Harvesting - A presentation developed by the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District with photos of rainwater harvesting equipment.
Rainwater Harvesting Committee Report - A report to the 80th Legislature from the Texas Rainwater Harvesting Evaluation Committee discussing the state’s potential for rainwater harvesting with recommendations for promoting its use.
Rainwater Harvesting Suppliers and Services – A list of rainwater harveting equipment suppliers from LCRA.
Setting Up, Permitting and Running a Subdivision - A draft proposal discussing the utilization of rainwater harvesting as a water supply strategy for Hill Country subdivisions.

Helpful Links

Anupam Mishra: The ancient ingenuity of water harvesting - Anupam Mishra gives us insight about water harvesting in the desert of India. Fascinating!
SAWS - How you can help
Sustainable Rainwater Harvesting Systems - Video of John Kight's presentation at the Energy Roundup 2009
Texas Water Development Board Rainwater Harvesting - The TWDB’s page on rainwater harvesting, which includes several additional TWDB documents and FAQs.
TCEQ Rainwater Harvesting Resources - Information from TCEQ focusing on treating rainwater for potable use that includes guidance for households and public water systems.
LCRA Rainwater Harvesting - Information from LCRA on rainwater harvesting at home.
BSEACD Rainwater Harvesting Information - Resources from BSEACD including several helpful documents.
City of Austin Rainwater Harvesting - Information from the City of Austin, including guidelines for the city’s rainwater harvesting rebates.
Rain Garden Network - An online resource for information about rainwater harvesting and the use of rain gardens, which help manage stormwater and reduce water pollution.
Texas A&M Rainwater Harvesting Training Programs - Texas AgriLife Extension holds several rainwater trainings across the state. Each training will cover a different topic related to rainwater harvesting.
Texas A&M Rainwater Calculator - Calculate cumulative storage and supplemental water use for your rainwater harvesting system.
ARCSA - A link to the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association, founded in Austin in 1994 to promote rainwater catchment systems in the United States.
How Much Rain Can You Catch?


Back to Water Supply

Back to Issues

The Latest News

SAWS Board to Vote on Water Deal, UTSA Panel to Follow

The San Antonio Water System Board will vote Monday on a $3.40-billion landmark water deal that would pipe in 50,000 acre-feet of water to San Antonio annually as soon as 2019, enough to meet 20% of the growing city’s future water needs. Read more from the Rivard Report.

Questions answered by SAWS Monday night

Monday’s vote by SAWS is step one, San Antonio City Council will ultimately consider and vote on the Vista Ridge Pipeline Project. Who is this water for? Where will it ultimately go? Who will ultimately pay and what are the long-term financial implications? Show up at UTSA Monday night for a balanced panel discussion. Get educated and get involved. Event details

Community groups question the rush to approve SAWS Vista Ridge Pipeline

“The 522 page draft contract for this $3.4 billion deal was posted on-line on September 23rd, giving the SAWS Board and the public less than a week to review a deal that will have far reaching implications for our community, including an estimated 16% rate hike for SAWS customers.” Read more from GEAA. As Margaret Day of the Alamo Sierra Club points out “to be sustainable, aquifer drawdown should be no greater than recharge.” Read this opinion piece from the Alamo Sierran Word.

The time is now to speak up in Travis County

Travis County is seeking public comments by Wednesday, Oct 1st on their Land, Water and Transportation plan. Read the plan, take the survey and/or send your comments via email. Meanwhile, CAMPO is taking comments until Oct 6th on a variety of projects including a study to construct a major tollway across sensitive preserve lands. “Traffic solution costly, harmful to environment” Read “City to oppose proposed tollroad” in the Austin American Statesmen.

Public Forum on Trinity Aquifer, Oct. 7

The League of Women Voters of Comal Area invites the public to attend “The Trinity Aquifer: A Shared Resource/ A Shared Responsibility,” to be held October 7 in Canyon Lake. “If you drink water in Comal County, you are likely to be drinking Trinity water, or you soon will be. It is up to all of us to learn more about this resource, no matter where in Comal County we live.” Learn more

Evaporation – a loss for humans and wildlife in Texas

It's no secret that drought has been a major factor in the declining water levels of our lakes and reservoirs here in Texas. But there is another factor that has has received very little attention - evaporation. Read more from Texas Living Waters.

New streetlights to make for darker skies

The stars may seem a little brighter over Kerrville next year. The Kerrville Public Utility Board last week set aside about $734,000 to upgrade 2,000 city street lights to “full cut-off,” high-efficiency LED lamps that won’t shine light upward. Read More from the Kerrville Daily Times.

Water Crisis: Time to Get Serious!

Last week’s “Water Crisis” event hosted by The Hays County Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development (CARD) drew a huge crowd and continues to create a lot of meaningful conversations about how rural lands west of I-35 will be developed. Learn more

Big changes for the Cibolo Nature Center (and FARM!)

Even as Cibolo Nature Center staffers celebrate a major milestone with the completed restoration of the historic Herff farmhouse, they're setting ambitious new goals. Read more from SA Express-News.

It Will Take an Insane Amount of Rain Before the Highland Lakes Recover

Central Texas is having a pretty decent year, rain-wise. We’re sitting just below normal. But these big rain events all have something in common: They really haven’t fallen where we need them most. “The watershed that helps our water supplies isn’t here in Austin; it’s way up into the counties to the north of us." Read more from State Impact.

Trend Of Land Fragmentation, Rural Loss Continues In Texas

Land fragmentation has been a growing problem for Texas, and by all appearances it isn’t going to slow any time soon. The state’s population continues to grow rapidly, and those residents have an insatiable appetite for land. Read more from Livestock Weekly.

No Land. No Water.

As the current drought reminds us, water continues to impact the sustainability and growth of Texas' economy. Unfortunately, land is disappearing faster than in any other state, threatening the water resources on which our economy depends. Land conservation is a cost-effective water resource protection strategy. Join TALT October 1st in Austin.

Fall Camping Workshops Announced for Outdoor Families

With cool weather around the corner, the Texas Outdoor Family program has scheduled outdoor recreational workshops statewide though the beginning of December. The workshops offer a low-cost weekend trip where families can un-plug, reconnect with nature, and learn the basics of camping. Read more from Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Aquifer is No Quick Fix for Central Texas Thirst

Water marketers who want to sell to cities say there’s plenty of groundwater, however landowners and conservationists warn that this precious resource could drain in a few decades. What’s the long-term impact on the Colorado River as the groundwater table declines? Who exactly is this water for and what are they willing to pay? Read this excellent article by Neena Satija, Texas Tribune.

Where is the Hill Country?

ACC Professor Don Jonsson takes an interesting look at various degrees of consensus about what geography is included in the “Hill Country.” His data shows Luckenbach as generally the mean center of the region and the Pedernales River Basin 100% Texas Hill Country. View his project findings, map and summary. HCA has a plethora of helpful Hill Country map resources available online and as well as an interactive map viewer.

Wild Pigs!

Landowner groups and Wildlife Coops – Here’s something worth passing along to your member lists. Wild Pigs are an issue throughout the Hill Country region. Here’s an opportunity to learn from the comfort of your own ranch/home computer. Dial in September 18th to from noon to 1:00. Find out how to access this webinar made possible by the Texas Wildlife Association.

"I’m a NIMBY and proud"

“The effects of population growth on traffic are easy to understand. More people equal more cars on the road. More cars on the road equal more congestion. Duh! The real culprit is the rate at which new people are moving here.” Read one bold Austinite's views (who happens to also be a Real Estate Developer) about the real issue facing Austin (and the Hill Country) population. Ed Wendler, Special to the Austin American Statesman.

CARD Hosts a Community Water Meeting September 11

to host a free community meeting this Thursday to discuss why water is an increasingly critical issue, and how we can all be part of improving the outlook. Speakers include Andy Sansom, Executive Director of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, Steve Clouse, Chief Operating Officer of San Antonio Water Systems, Ray Whisenant, Hays County Commissioner, Peter Newell, Water Resources Engineer at HDR Engineering, and Bech Bruun of the TWDB. Details

What’s all this fuss about a Parkway through Oak Hill?

The Fix 290 Coalition, a group of over 40 organizations and businesses and 2,800 petition signers, have been advocating for a “parkway" concept to move traffic through Oak Hill and protect the original character and unique natural environment of the area for more than a decade. The City of Austin is now asking for a study of this community driven “parkway” alternative to TxDot’s traditional elevated/frontage road model. Read more from Fix290.

HCA Transmission Line Workshop Generates Crowd

On Saturday, September 6th the Hill Country Alliance hosted a landowner workshop for those landowners potentially impacted by the LCRA's proposed Blumenthal substation and transmission line project. The workshop featured an update from the LCRA on the status of their application to the Public Utility Commission, and a panel discussion of landowner rights during the transmission line routing and construction process. To read a more detailed summary of the event and access speaker presentations, click here.

A Tale of 2 Water Districts: 1 Aquifer, 2 Strategies

A decade ago, prospective water marketers easily secured the rights to pump more than 20 billion gallons of water annually from the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer in Central Texas’ Burleson County. The company now holding those rights, BlueWater, is negotiating a $3 billion deal to send much of that water to San Antonio. Read more from The Texas Tribune.

More news

Upcoming Events

October

October 1 in Austin - No Land, No Water: Tools & Strategies for Conserving Land to Protect Water Resources - Presented by Texas Agricultural Land Trust - Details

October 7 in Canyon Lake - Public Forum on Trinity Aquifer, presented by The League of Women Voters Comal Area - Details

October 8 in San Antonio - Water Forum V: A regional forum on our future - Details

October 15 in Junction - SLWA Guadalupe Bass Workshop - Details

October 16 in San Antonio - Teaming with Wildlife: The State of Nature in Texas, presented by Compassionate San Antonio - Details

October 16 in Boerne - Hill Country Agri-land workshop - Details

October 17-19 in Alpine - Society for Ecological Restoration Annual Conference: Ecological Restoration in the Southwest - Details

October 24 in Utopia - Stars over Utopia - Learn how to protect our night skies and do some stargazing - Details

October 25 in Dripping Springs - HCA's 5th Annual Rainwater Revival! - Details

See more upcoming events


2015 Calendar

One sale now!- Purchase Online

Check out the top photos from our 2014 HCA Photo Contest


Imagine a place where vibrant communities draw strength from their natural assets to sustain their quality of life. A place where citizens care about protecting the special qualities of a region – their region. A place where people and partners band together to envision a better economic future, tackle shared challenges and care for the natural, scenic, and recreational resources that define the place they call home.
~This is a Conservation Landscape



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Maps

Helpful Mapping Resources - Beautiful and informative maps of the region to print and share.

HCA Dynamic Mapping Tool - Interactive online GIS mapping tool

 
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