Desert Water Harvesting Initiative

About the Desert Water Harvesting Initiative

Throughout the Western US, population growth and expanding urban areas will increase water demand even as climate changes affect supply equations.  Communities may be challenged to consistently deliver sufficient water to meet demands, obtain additional water supplies, and construct additional infrastructure, all while ensuring enough water for environmental needs and for cooling the urban environment.

Harvesting rainwater and stormwater provides a multitude of benefits, which include water savings, cost savings, reduced flood peaks, stormwater quality management, habitat enhancement, and reduction of urban heat island effects.  For many years, Tucson has been at the forefront of efforts to incorporate water harvesting into water supply and stormwater management practices. As the benefits of water harvesting are recognized, the number and diversity of individuals and agencies exploring its potential has grown, yet most of the work is performed in relative isolation with relatively little organized data and information sharing.

The Water Resources Research Center established the Desert Water Harvesting Initiative to enhance outreach and communication between utilities, practitioners of water harvesting, academics, and interested citizens.  To further this effort, the Initiative has formed the Rainwater-Stormwater Professionals Networks (RSPN) that meets semi-annually at the WRRC to keep members abreast of current and planned activities, resources, and data.  The Initiative also developed several products designed to increase the understanding and use of water harvesting, especially in the arid and semi-arid Southwest.  


Rainwater-Stormwater Professionals Network: The RSPN was active for several years, but merged with the regional Low Impact Development Working Group in 2015.  To find out more about this group, please contact Claire Zucker at

Experts Directory: This searchable directory lists contact information for water harvesting experts in Southern Arizona (link in header)

Publications: This list of water harvesting-related articles, manuals, and other publications is searchable by keyword (link in header)

Links: These water harvesting resources are organized into three categories: Demonstration Sites, Online Resources, and Workshops (link in header)

Toolbox: This prototype water harvesting decision guide was developed as part of a two-year WaterSMART research grant from the US Bureau of Reclamation.  The Toolbox includes a narrated video presentation orienting users to water harvesting, linked web resources with further information, and several worksheets designed to help users develop an appropriate roadmap for implementing water harvesting in their communities (link in green button and header)



If you have questions or comments, please contact:
Susanna Eden at or 
Claire Zucker at