Rainwater harvesting is legal in many states around the U.S. and illegal in just a few. It has been a resource and routine of survival in times of great drought or limited water resources.

For Ryan Wood and his family, rainwater harvesting is a way of life. From the garden to the fruit trees, to the outdoor shower. The Wood's family home practically runs on the water they collect from Mother Nature.

"We have a 600-gallon tank here and two 50-gallon tanks on this side of the house to capture the rainwater. We have shaped our landscaping in a way to contour it, for the water slow, spread and sink” said Ryan Wood.

The rainwater can support their low water desert climate plants.

“Once you get into high water use plants you have to go into a supplement irrigation system,” said Wood.

So, how much water would it take to fill a 600-gallon tank?

"The rule of thumb one inch of rain 1000 square feet 600-gallons," said Wood.

During a good or fair rain season in Arizona, some parts of the valley can get anywhere from 4 to 11 inches of rain during the year.

"You could easily collect several thousand gallons of water" said Wood. "If we can use the rain water that falls on to our property as the first choice then that’s less water to get from the tap or the well. In an ideal scenario it becomes our first source of water,” said Wood.

The rainwater collected can also be used for other uses then just watering the lawn.

“With the right filtration system, you could plumb the rainwater into your house to where every tap in the house is pulling from rainwater tank. So it’s used to do the dishes, flushing toilets, doing laundry. They you can take that grey water and plumb it out of your house to use for watering the lawn, so if you think about it you would get double the use and conserve even more water” said Wood.

Setting up a system can cost a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars depending on how hardcore you go with your rain harvesting system.

Wood is the program manager for watershed management and teaches free classes every week in Tempe on rain water harvesting. For more information, click on this link.

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