• Red Rocks with water in front of them in the desert.
  • Clouds behind Joshua Tree and bushes.
  • Desert flowers blooming in bushes in front of mountains in the desert.
  • Setting sun reflecting of clouds of orange and blue behind a joshua tree.
  • Hoover Dam intake towers with water behind the dam showing that it is not full.


Utility Guide to Rainwater/Stormwater Harvesting as an Adaptive Response to Climate Change

Science Need

Assessing and evaluating natural or cultural resources management practices and adaption opportunities.

Grantee:  University of Arizona, Water Resources Research Center
Principle Investigators: Susanna Eden
Cooperative Agreement:  $86,568 in non-Federal funds and $86,567  in Federal funds provided by Bureau of Reclamation
Project Duration: 2011-2013

Project Goal

Relatively little guidance exists on how public utilities and agencies can evaluate the suitability and cost-effectiveness of water harvesting strategies to provide tangible and significant benefits to the community. This project will develop a prototype guidance tool for public utilities and agencies to use to evaluate the suitability and cost-effectiveness of rainwater and stormwater capture at various scales for multiple benefits to the community.

Brief Project Description

In 2010, the Arizona Governor's Blue Ribbon Panel on Water Sustainability proposed a priority research area in “Rainwater Harvesting & Stormwater Research”. The Panel recommended that universities take responsibility for leading research, "to identify regulatory barriers, cost and benefits, water quality issues and avenues for increasing utilization of stormwater and rainwater at the regional, community and individual property level." The changing climate and other pressures are prompting communities across the country to look at water harvesting as a management option.  The critical impacts of climate change on water supplies include potential changes in rainfall availability, frequency, and magnitude; evapotranspiration; flood control and stormwater management needs; and plant water needs at multiple points in the future.  These impacts complicate planning for the needs of rapidly growing populations. Guidance for use in assessing and planning water harvesting at multiple scales will be designed for use by water utilities, stormwater management agencies, flood control agencies, and other public departments that obtain, deliver, or otherwise manage potable water, rainwater and/or stormwater in the urban environment of the Western US. Efforts will focus on Tucson, Arizona, which is broadly representative of growing cities in the desert Southwest. Based on the specific conditions and experience in the greater Tucson area, a prototype assessment tool and supporting guidance will be developed to lead users through research, data gathering, benefit-cost analysis, and evaluation steps.

Project Location

Tucson, Arizona

Project Tasks

  1. 1. Convene a Technical Advisory Committee to refine scope of project, identify data sources, review progress and supply advice.
  2. 2. Identify relevant parameters, including cost, benefits and potential barriers
  3. 3. Inventory existing resources and conduct literature review of water harvesting practices
  4. 4. Collect relevant data and develop assessment tool
  5. 5. Test guidance tool with resource managers
  6. 6. Modify and prepare final assessment tool and associated reports

Project Deliverables

  1. Research report
  2. Prototype for demonstrating usefulness of water harvesting options
  3. Presentations at the semi-annual meeting of the Rainwater-Stormwater Professionals Network and other relevant conferences

Opportunities to learn more

  1. Presentations (link if available)
    Webinars (link if available)
    Meetings (information and/or link if available)
    Links to other related science

Documents for downloading

  1. Project Proposal

Updated: May 17, 2013