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Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands (Vol. 1): Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life And Landscape Paperback – January 1, 2006

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Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands: Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life and Landscape is the first volume of three-volume guide on how to conceptualize, design, and implement sustainable water-harvesting systems for your home, landscape, and community. This book enables you to assess your on-site resources, gives you a diverse array of strategies to maximize their potential, and empowers you with guiding principles to create an integrated, multi-functional water-harvesting plan specific to your site and needs. Volume 1 helps bring your site to life, reduce your cost of living, endow you with skills of self-reliance, and create living air conditioners of vegetation growing beauty, food, and wildlife habitat. Stories of people who are successfully welcoming rain into their life and landscape will invite you to do the same!

About the Author

Brad Lancaster has taught, designed, and consulted on the sustainable design system of permaculture and integrated rainwater harvesting systems since 1993. He lives on the thriving 1/8th-acre urban permaculture site he created in downtown Tucson, Arizona.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Rainsource Press (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 097724640X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977246403
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #682,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brad Lancaster has taught, designed, and consulted on regenerative-design systems of permaculture and integrated water-harvesting systems in nine countries since 1993. He created and lives on a thriving solar-powered 1/8th-acre urban oasis in downtown Tucson, Arizona, which harvests 100,000 gallons of rainwater a year where just 12 inches falls from the sky. Brad's dynamic books, talks, workshops, and living example have inspired tens of thousands of people to 'plant the rain' and 'dance with the sun' to sustainably grow and enhance their local resources. Visit his website at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 99 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on April 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
Note that the title of this book includes the words Drylands. This book is primarily about catching rainwater for use outside of your house, i.e. watering the plants. The illustrations and descriptions are based on life in Arizona. There you want to catch all the rainwater you can get and get some use out of it rather than simply letting it flow down the street. At this purpose, the book is excellent. This is the way it should be done but rarely is.

My own experience with catching rainwater is quite different. I was living out in the swamps in Louisiana. We had plenty of water. In any direction you cared to go there was water. Average rainfall was about 65 inches per year. In fact when we went to town we went by boat.

So why rainwater? Pollution. The water that comes to Louisiana has come down through a thousand miles or more of agricultural runoff, sewage treatment plants that may not have been working so well, feedlot runoff, and God knows what else.

We used a system kind of like his drawing on page 71, but there were certainly no cactus plants around. But note carefully item number 4 in his components, what he calls a first-flush system. This is a system to vent the first few gallons of water off the roof away from the storage cistern. If you are going to drink the water it's best to get rid of the bird droppings and other stuff that accumulates on the roof between rains.

He doesn't describe the first flush system but from the drawing it looks like it might be some kind of a commercial device. Ours was a home made affair. A two foot long piece of gutter was hinged so that it stuck up in the air, held there by a spring. When this gutter was up in the air, the water dumped into a bucket.
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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Sapello Sally on November 16, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book. The author has a friendly, conversational writing style that makes the book a pleasure to read. I was familiar with most of the concepts and we own other resources that describe them, but this book pulls them all together in a clear and comprehensive manner. Design principles presented here are inspiring and simple to follow, with enough technical information included that you aren't left wondering how you should go about implementing the author's suggestions. Even high-rainfall areas have droughts; the concepts presented in this book will help your plantings survive and thrive with less input from you. Rainwater is much better for plants than either city water or well water(which tends to have a high mineral content). We live in an area that averages about 18" of precipitation per year and incorporating many of the strategies described in this book has meant that our plants are much less stressed during the dry seasons and require significantly less watering than they otherwise would. These principles work, and doing even a little is much better than doing nothing!
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Gary on February 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a very wide-ranging introduction to the concepts of rainwater harvesting which is both very informative and personally fun to read. Brad Lancaster has filled the pages with many examples of his own accomplishments and those of other like-minded people and organizations. You don't

have to live in an area of restricted rainfall to put these tried and true concepts into practice. Matter of fact, the more rain you receive each year, the greater latitude you'll have in making a difference.

If I lived closer to Brad's part of the country, I'd definitely consider myself a groupie. This is the best overall intro to the potentials and benefits of rainwater harvesting I've found. It helps us reconfigure our relationship to the fullness and richness of life lying unseen there in plain sight.

It's a big sweet piece of an urgent puzzle.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By T. Annese on September 6, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're an absolutely new to rainwater harvesting book, this book may be of some use. But if you understand the basic ideas of rainwater harvesting, I'd skip this book.

Perhaps volumes 2 and 3 are more specific. Volume 1 tells you about the meat, but doesn't give it to you. I suspect the meat (i.e. useful detailed information) is in volumes 2 and 3.

You may prefer Art Ludwig's the New Create an Oasis with Greywater. I found it had the same basic information on rainwater harvesting as Volume 1, but in addition, has detailed information on creating a greywater system.
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Format: Paperback
I can't say enough about what a good reference this book is for all gardeners/farmers, and even for people who don't garden. Water is such a precious resource. Mr. Lancaster did extensive research for this book inspired by Mr. Phirri in Africa. I first heard of Mr. Phirri in an online article by Mr. Lancaster. He was arrested several times for stealing water from his neighbors during the dry season because he still was able to grow and harvest vegetables and such when no one else could....and more importantly perhaps, his well never ran dry. The thing was he wasn't stealing water. He was harvesting it in unique ways he had to prove. It caused folks from all over the globe to go see how a simple African man could manage this after he convinced a judge to come to see his system for saving water. He became known as "The Man Who Farms Water."

Mr. Lancaster took what he learned from Mr. Phirri and researched it back home in Arizona to see if these ideas/techniques could be used anywhere else. What he and his brother learned caused even the city of Tuscon, Arizona, to change their ideas and practices in order to save precious water for its citizens. This book explains all of that and more. The one drawback to the book may be that it lists sources only for Tuscon, but it was that area for which it was written. What it shows may be used anywhere, though. It goes much further than just putting out barrels to collect rainwater. You may find yourself wondering why you didn't think of that yourself. Some of it completely contradicts what we have always been told about how our property should be graded, for instance. It may be my most valuable gardening reference, but more importantly it may be the most valuable resource for preserving potable water for the world
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