on August 4, 2013
i read volume 2 first and was wondering if i should bother reading the 1st. i am really glad i did - there was definitely overlap but he covers a lot of other topics well (wind and solar energy; passive solar and maximizing winter sun; sun direction and movement...) giving a more rounded view of conservation and more ideas for your individual home. he was very detailed yet it was not boring or over the top technical. A great compliment to both books and the book i actually read before any of the rain harvesting books is "Gaia's Garden" by Toby Hemmenway. i feel all three of these books support each other in leading one to a more self reliant, sustainable way of life.
on September 14, 2013
I've used Brad's books for several years to calculate available rainfall and size cisterns, basins, earthworks, etc. His methods of describing, explaining, and motivating have been great for harvesting rainwater, but what really makes the second edition a rockin' upgrade is the new content on sun, shade, and wind awareness - how to use all of them to heat and cool your dwelling. Like his rainwater info, Brad makes it easy for the reader to understand the path of the sun and how to put both sun and shade to work at your home. Also, the new Water-Energy-Carbon Nexus section showed me how much impact my energy use has on water, and my water use has on energy - quite surprising even for sustainability-minded folks.
This is great info for folks who are remodeling their existing home for sustainability, but it is a Must-Have for anyone building a new home. Using Brad's descriptions and calculations BEFORE building a home will result in siting and design that has a dramatic reduction in energy costs and increase in comfort. Now if only I could build a new home... :)
on July 27, 2013
I've been a fan of Brad Lancaster's books for several years, but I found them even more useful during the prolonged drought of 2011 which impacted us here even on the humid Gulf Coast. His strategies for harvesting rainwater (and other water resources) and storing not only in cisterns but--more importantly and efficiently--in the soil where it is needed were developed in the aridness of Tucson AZ, but can be adapted to other climates.
Volume 1 of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond is the first in his (eventual) three-volume series, and lays out the principles and main strategies for making use of the rainwater resource, as well as the many reasons for why it needs to be done. This second edition of Volume 1 adds a tremendous amount of new material to the original book, and further improves an already valuable book. Like permaculture itself, this is an imagination-rich and information-dense book, sure to be a valuable reference no matter where you live.
on October 17, 2013
This book changed my life. He opens with an inspiring account of a farmer who transformed his dusty, unfruitful plot of dry land into a life-sustaining ecosystem. Then Lancaster moves into the details of planning. He provides useful calculating sheets and simply, but powerful illustrations to convey the principles of rainwater harvesting. I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to be inspired while taking steps to implementing this type of design. I am using the images and tools In the book to convince my landlord to fund a water-wise landscape in El Paso. It works because the images are easy to understand, regardless of your background expertise and make economic sense. There is a free PDF copy of the book available, but I chose to buy the hard copy because I appreciate the obvious hardwork that Lancaster put into this book which is brimming with research, resources and Precision.
on September 17, 2013
I'd give this book 6 stars if it were possible. While the focus of this book is on harvesting rainwater, it also has great information on gray water recycling, energy, and plants. The book is very well written and has many illustrations for additional clarification. If you live in an arid environment, this book is a must read.
on November 30, 2014
This is an extremely useful, well researched series.
I live in the high desert of CA, where drought seems to be the natural state of things.
It has a vast array of choices on water harvesting, so no matter what your situation, there is an option for you. You can employ these techniques whether you're building your own home on acreage, or living in the suburbs in a tract home.
I wish more municipalities would employ these techniques.
We grade land to maximize runoff. However, this breaks the cycle of replenishing the water resources we use. Water comes out of the ground to supply our drinking water, but it never recharges, but rather runs down the drain.
This series not only teaches techniques on how to help water soak into the ground, and harvest it in cisterns, but also how to prevent standing water and mosquitoes, and how to create an outlet for overflow.
on July 11, 2014
Rainwater is seen both as a useful resource and a waste product. On one hand it keeps the plants fresh, but on the other hand is can wash polluted road runoff into the rivers. This book is about how to find a balance through conservation, and a lot of hard work. It’s meant for arid lands, where everything is dry and you have cactuses, but when it rains in arid lands, the soil can be washed away. The rain will eat away the soil, flush it downhill, and your backyard can disappear in days. As for lost soil, it ends up downstream and silts up the waterways.
Lancaster begins with simple rock dams, easily built with no cement or tools, to slow the downhill flow of water. The book progresses to another problem with drainage in the USA, and that is the pavement. When huge swaths of land are paved, water doesn’t soak into the soil, but into storm drains, which drain into the waterways. Not only does this flush all the chemicals from autos into the rivers, but since the water doesn’t drain into the aquifer, it goes dry. You’ll end up having to pump water up, and that requires energy. Lancaster recommends starting the dams at the top of the hill, and building more as you move downward. As for road runoff, he gives step-by-step plans for “rain gardens” which soak up road runoff and allow the water to drain directly into the aquifers.
The author rails against culverts, arguing that huge pipes running under roads are “shotguns” that create higher pressure and more erosion. I have to wonder what effect the LA River has, because it’s been culverted for decades. If the banks weren’t paved, would the vegetation absorb the pollution? If so, what about the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn?
One basic tenet of this book, with regards to landscaping, is to go native. Lawns don’t exist in nature in the Southwest, and not only do they guzzle water (pumped from the aquifers) but when they dry out you get fires. Gold courses are notorious water wasters in Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico, leaving less water for drinking and firefighting. Lancaster stresses native trees, shrubs, and grasses that grow with limited water. Most important, he provides ways to do these things on your own, with no need for expensive landscaping, just a shovel and a strong back. No capital needed!
on April 8, 2014
We got 9 inches of rain last year in my area. 16 inches is the norm. We're in a drought like much of the Midwest. Last year I planted a 1/4 acre to wheat that had poor results even with supplemental irrigation. I purchased Vol. I and II together. Vol. I is more of a sales pitch for how terrible our stormwater systems are. Vol. II is very detailed about how and where to build various types of rainwater harvesting systems other than roof catchment. I watched a DIY video of someone building swales and saw the problem with the system before it was done. Not that I'm and expert, but if the vlogger had purchased this book he would have saved himself the trouble of having his swales washed away with the next rainstorm.