SIERRA VISTA — The University of Arizona Water Wise Program hosted its annual rainwater harvesting tour, which brought locals in touch with how residential and commercial collection sites work.
The tour dropped by Cochise College, Joyce Clark Middle School, the Pueblo Del Sol Country Club and two residences to discuss the variety of different systems available.
One of the guides, Cado Daily, Cochise County Water Resources Coordinator, has been a member of the Water Wise Program since 1994.
She finds it encouraging to see people interested in conserving water.
“We’ve been working at promoting this for several years and it was slow to catch on, but we’ve found tremendous support,” she said. “The thing that stops most people from doing it, however, is that they think it’s too expensive. Now, with the Cochise Water Project, people can be given assistance in installing.”
“People always say that they’re amazed by how much they can collect and they want to install bigger containers,” she added. “It’s a win-win all the way around for people.”
“Instead of telling people they need to have dry landscapes, we tell people they can have lush ones provided by rainwater,” she said. “We’re changing our way of thinking about storm water by slowing it down to give our plants a nice drink.”
Tim Cervantes, administrative director of the Cochise Water Project, and his organization assist people in receiving grants and consultation for acquiring conservation systems.
He’s noticed it can become addictive.
“Once people get addicted to it, they continually monitor their tanks,” he said. “It eventually becomes more valuable to them than the city water.”
“The Water Project’s goal is simple — we want conserving water to become second nature for people. We want to keep people thinking about saving this resource, especially in the desert,” he said.
“It’s a simple lifestyle change; it’s not a big deal,” Cervantes added. “It’s also fun to experiment and do plenty of cool stuff with it.”
Rob Yancey, whose home in Sierra Vista was on the tour, adopted the rain water harvesting lifestyle in Feb. As a friend of Rick Weisberg, owner of Oasis Water Harvesting, Yancey was inspired after viewing Weisberg’s equipment.
“All the things that are demonstrated here, and more are also at his set-up at his home,” Yancey said. “His catchment systems are pretty interesting.”
“After seeing a demonstration by Rick, my wife, Valerie, and I saw the potential,” he said. “We didn’t have any hesitations.”
Yancey hasn’t noticed a change in his lush landscape, but hopes to find one in his water bill, as he used to irrigate his lawn with city water. He’d also like to reduce the amount of waste rainwater that isn’t captured.
He was impressed by the tour group that viewed both his front and backyards to see his system.
“Everyone had good questions about how the system runs and how we set it up,” Yancey said. “It was nice to answer them.”
Theresa Morse-Hill and Doe Payne were members of the free tour. They were driven by both curiosity and a desire to save water.
Payne had previously bought a system for her home to install it herself, but her dog had destroyed the equipment.
“Cado and I talk a lot. Water Wise is good, so I’ll be using the resources available to us,” she said. “I was initially inspired to start harvesting rainwater because I kept seeing it run down the street and thinking about all of the plants that were dying that missed it.”
“I’d love to have a low-water environment (like Yancey’s) but I’m just looking forward to collecting enough to water tomatoes,” she said.
Hill, a new resident to the community, decided to join the movement as the water table continues to shrink.
“I don’t know what will happen or what to expect, so I’m hoping to recapture any loss with larger tanks,” Hill said. “I hope to become more active environmentally.”
Hill also plans to use her future system to assist her in landscaping.
“I’d like to stay indigenous to the area’s native plants,” she said. “I’ll still use it for my gardens, but I’d like to use it for my landscaping as well.”
The group will host a Bisbee-based tour next Saturday beginning at 8 a.m. at Grassy Park.