Your home AC unit could help water your garden - Tucson News Now

Your home AC unit could help water your garden

By Barbara Grijalva - email

Tucson, AZ (KOLD) - Rainwater harvesting is nothing new in these parts.

It has been done here for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years.

But there's a new kind of water harvesting our ancestors could never do.

It's on display outside the University of Arizona College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. There's a Sonoran Desert garden there that is watered almost entirely by harvested water.

And some of that water comes out of thin air.

No, not rainwater.

"In any given year, we collect more water from our condensate than we do from rainwater," UA College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture Associate Dean Ron Stoltz says.

Yep. That's the stuff that drips off the air conditioners on the the college's building.

Stoltz says, "It is the new urban aquifer."

Of course, they also collect rainwater for the award-winning garden that's also a laboratory and a classroom where students learn water harvesting, of course, saves water and saves money, and can improve our lives.

UA landscape architecture student Julia Roberts says, "You can harvest water from a building and employ it in your landscape to make the outdoors a more comfortable place to be."

Not a bad idea for our own yards. Of course, the air conditioner drip at the architecture building is more like a gusher.

"If we're getting up to 45 gallons an hour out of ours, it wouldn't be uncommon to see somebody getting maybe two to three gallons an hour from their house."

Imagine how much water Tucson could generate, if every building's air conditioners were hooked up.

"The Marshall Building, over there on the edge of campus. They're suggesting they're getting over 500 gallons an hour of condensate," Stoltz says.

"In a day you could fill an average swimming pool," he adds.

Stoltz says the urban oasis that uses harvested water is what a lot of Tucson homes and businesses are expected to have within the next decade.

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