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Know the West

Water-harvest warning


It is very sad that a man of science, Brent Cluff, believes that “water harvesting could support unlimited growth.” In “Tucson’s rain-catching revolution” (HCN, 4/27/15), rainwater harvesting is touted as a way to conserve water. It is a step in the right direction, but only a step, and it has several negative impacts.

First, it allows us to continue our profligate ways when it comes to overwatering our yards and gardens. In many places, lawn irrigation is the largest use of water for individual residences, commercial and governmental entities. Rainwater harvesting supports the inefficient and unsupported “unlimited growth” mentality that gets all of us into deep trouble.

Second, if rainwater harvesting is done by enough people and entities, a large amount of water will no longer flow into rivers and streams, soak into soils or feed groundwater aquifers. This will have a significant effect, particularly in places like Arizona, where climate change is expected to create drier day-to-day and seasonal weather. When it does rain, the runoff will be blotted up by hundreds of thousands, even millions, of rainwater-harvesting systems, large and small. Rivers and streams, landscapes, aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, and groundwater levels will take the hit.

In dry areas like Arizona, it is far better to use desert plants for landscaping. After all, the residents live in a desert. Adapt to the desert. Don’t fight it.

Brandt Mannchen
Houston, Texas