03.06.12Alan Harris

Save Your Rain for a Sunny Day

Man walking through the rainRain, rain go away... or at least into a cistern! Rainwater harvesting can help cure the sunny day blues during droughts. To harvest enough rainwater to be beneficial a large storage tank or cistern is needed For more information on this system visit

Mark Hopkins

Knowing my passion for water, one of my fellow workers sent me a great handbook on rainwater harvesting he came across while researching the topic for a client. I suggested he share some of his research in the form of a guest blog for ValleyCrestTakesOn. He did such a phenonmenal job I think he should be a regular contributor. If you like this post and want to read more from Mark, please leave a comment below.

Rainwater Harvesting Inspiration

My Mom always said “Mark, you better save your money for a rainy day.” Moms are great with advice like that and mine was certainly no different. I probably should have turned down the volume on my Led Zeppelin 8 track and listened a little closer. However, given the ever-increasing cost of water, maybe what she should have told me was “You better save your rain for a sunny day”!

Findings in a 2011 report compiled by Circle of Blue show the nation’s largest cities saw water costs rise by an average of 9%, with rates expected to continue to climb. Some areas of the country, like Texas, hardest hit by recent drought conditions may see water prices escalate even faster. Water is truly becoming the new “gold” standard.

In his ValleyCrest Takes On water blog titled “We Have Plenty of Water”, Alan Harris makes the argument that we have all the water we will ever need. Mr. Harris writes, “We have had the same amount of water we have always had, about 326 million cubic miles and will continue to have the same amount of water as long as the earth and the atmosphere is in tact.” While this may be true, water may not always be where or when we need it and its scarcity or lack of available, efficient delivery systems can greatly increase the costs.

Another one of my Mom’s standards was “Don’t forget to do your homework!” Not bad advice back then and even better advice now. If I would have saved my money and done my homework there’s no telling where I would be today! Well, it’s never too late so I cracked the books and did some research. I’m finding there is a “new” old way of saving water and money….rainwater harvesting.

History of Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting can be traced back over 3000 years. In Jordan, King Mesha of Moab, commanded that all citizens dig cisterns for the collection of rainwater. Failing to comply with those water-saving guidelines probably resulted in more than a fine! In ancient Rome, atrium-fed rainwater collection cisterns were common place and are an important part of the region’s history. However, until recently, rainwater harvesting has been mostly forgotten or relegated to the small individual efforts of tree-huggers or hippies. They probably didn’t turn down the Led Zeppelin either!

Rainwater Harvesting Today

Due to rising costs and water shortages, there is a new buzz towards the age-old practice of rainwater harvesting. In a recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council eight cities were studied for the potential economic impact of water harvesting. It is estimated the residents of these cities could save over 90 million dollars each year by adopting simple rain collection techniques. The study also finds that rainwater harvesting is not just applicable in residential settings; it can also be used on a commercial basis. Businesses can harvest rainfall from rooftops and parking surfaces with the potential of satisfying 21% to 75% of their annual water needs.

Many states are also getting into the act by providing resources for those individuals and businesses interested in water harvesting. For example, The Texas Water Development Board has created a Rainwater Harvesting Manual which outlines many methods of collection, formulas to estimate system sizing, available rebates and a wealth of other information.

When it comes to water harvesting, the need is now, resources are readily available and cost-saving benefits are measurable. Rainwater harvesting has evolved. What’s that Mom?…..Everything old is new again? Moms are always right! Not to worry, I’m finally saving my money, doing my homework and only occasionally running with scissors in my hand!

Mark is a veteran leader in the landscape and irrigation industry with over 35 years of commercial horticultural experience. As a licensed commercial irrigator, he has first-hand knowledge of the rapidly changing advancements in water technology. In his leadership role, with ValleyCrest’s National Sales Operations team, Mark is a resource for our local branch teams and customers alike.

Residing in Texas, he is at the forefront of the nation’s water debate. With continually changing climatic conditions, reoccurring statewide droughts and ever-increasing government water regulations, Texas has been the testing ground for numerous, industry-changing conservation practices. Mark’s long-term involvement in these changes has helped him become expert in the field of sustainability.

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Alan Harris

Alan Harris is a water management pioneer. With roots in landscape architecture, Alan has worked with irrigation throughout his career experimenting with hydrozones and a variety of high efficiency irrigation systems. Now, over thirty years in the landscape industry, Alan continues to stay apprised of the latest technology even in a sales leadership capacity as our Director of Sales Operations for our landscape maintenance division. In addition to his contributions to this blog, Alan keeps his hand in water management as a regular contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine and speaker at WaterSmart Innovations Conference.




  1. Tuesday, 12:49 Eric Romero

    Great article with some good humor. Like my momma always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”. Or maybe that was Forest Gump. There’s not much water harvesting going on in southern California, but I have some friends in Hawaii that do harvest rain water and use it for showers and watering their landscape. You do have to have the right pump though to make it work.

  2. Tuesday, 3:33 Alan Harris

    @Eric – interestingly their was/is a meeting today or tomorrow in Sacramento to review proposed changes to the Uniform Building Code of California. As presently written there would be severe restrictions on the amount of GrayWater and RainWater that could be harvested.

  3. Tuesday, 8:48 Mark Hopkins

    @Eric- Thanks. It seems like I’m having discussions with clients on a monthly basis about water havesting. In Texas, many of the local water agencies are predicting rate increases, making rain water collection a much more viable option.

  4. Saturday, 7:45 Dana Seelig

    The County of Los Angeles has standards for Irrigation Systems using Rain Water and catchment systems, check out these 2 links.

  5. […] Butts. Regardless of what they are called, they are a growing component on a residential level for harvesting rainwater, but may not be legal in the state in which you live. (No, I am not talking about your state of […]

  6. […] surfaces (roadways, sidewalks, etc.) is the primary reason we don’t have the ability to store rain water efficiently. Part of the answer is to pave more areas with more permeable surfaces. However, there […]

  7. […] is needed most during the warmer months in the growing season when rain is intermittent at best. Storm water is good, but in the process of flowing across lawns, roads and parking lots storm water picks up pathogens […]

  8. Sunday, 2:39 Laluleela

    First step is to actually cngahe the city code to allow greywater systems my understanding is that they’re currently illegal. I would love to irrigate my yard every time I run the dishwasher, do a load of laundry, or take a shower. For that matter, can we cngahe the city code so I can also control mosquitos by keeping a few chickens, mow my lawn using a small pet goat, and so on?

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