New Strategies for Rain Harvesting

Summary from the August 30th, 2010 Sharon Kleyne Hour

Guest: Pam Lott, MLA (Ashland, OR), American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association.

Pam Lott has a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon and is accredited in rain water harvesting systems by the American Rainwater Catchment Association. Their objective is, through building and landscape design, to capture, collect and store rainwater and put it to positive use.

Ms. Lott notes that in Southern Oregon, winters are very wet and summers are very dry. Hence, the need to trap and retain seasonally renewable water.

There are active and passive catchment systems. They include the building of cisterns (passive) and landscaping in a way that retains moisture (active).

Soil with a high organic content retains up to three times as much moisture as purely mineral soil.

Collecting and using near where the rain falls saves transportation costs.

She encourages dryland farming and gardening methods – don’t plant on raised berms but in the ditches between berms, where moisture collects. “Slow it, spread it, sink it.”

Plastic and fabric barriers can be helpful in reducing weeds and retaining water but mulching is much better. The best way to water is by hand with a hose because you can adjust the amount of water each plant receives.

Drip irrigation is the most efficient. However, it can be expensive. Mist watering is also efficient.

Planting appropriate plants for the amount of natural rainfalls is also helpful in utilizing water.

Website: www.valleyrainharvesting.com. Also the ARCSA website.

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