UA rain harvesting system designed to prevent flooding

When it rains, the University of Arizona does its best to catch every drop it can.

For the past 20 years, the campus' rain harvesting system has evolved into countless systems that drain storm runoff from the streets into various landscaping throughout campus.

UA Planning, Construction and Design's Campus Planner Grant McCormick said the systems help prevent flooding on campus and send precious water to areas that need watering.

"It helps with plants, it helps with storm water runoff, it helps with reducing pollution, and so it's just a really easy way to create a lot of value for not a whole lot of money," McCormick said.

One example is the 10-foot, concrete water structure built underneath Bear Down Field, not far from Arizona Stadium. The tank could hold up to a million gallons of water and takes up a third of the width of the field, McCormick said.

Pipes within the structure send rain water stored over a period of time to the landscaping at Likins Residence Hall.

As Arizona endures a severe drought, McCormick said the lack of rain is precisely why these water harvesting systems should be taken seriously.

"I think it makes it all the more important to harvest rain. We do get a lot of rain in the short amount of time in the summer and one of the ways to prevent that from running off and going downstream is to actually harvest it. We do get rain in other parts of the year so it benefits during the winter rains as well," McCormick said.

The UA's rainwater system reflects the City of Tucson's own water harvesting initiative.

Tucson's rain harvesting incentives program started in June of 2012. Homeowners who build a water catchment system for single-family residential properties could qualify for a maximum rebate of $2,000. They must also attend a rainwater harvesting workshop to qualify for the rebate.

Since the program's inception in 2012, 2,123 people have attended workshops and 568 rebates have been issued.

A total of 568 rebates were issued in the first two years that the program has been in place, according to Tucson Water's Conservation Program.

Copyright 2014

. All rights reserved.