With the predictions that the Southwest will continue to get hotter and drier, the need for effective water management and reduction of urban heat is increasingly important. Through rainwater harvesting we can help reduce urban temperatures and increase tree coverage. Rainwater harvesting is a financial investment and many limited-income families in Tucson cannot afford the upfront costs. We reached out to Lora who shares with us how she was able to do rainwater harvesting at her home as a participant in our Limited-Income Rainwater Harvesting Loan and Grant Program. 

Lora with her rainwater harvesting tank
1. Tell us about yourself.

My name is Lora, I was born and raised in Tucson. I am a massage therapist. My boyfriend and I are homeowners living in a single-family home. Our home is brick, has a flat roof and a little over 2,000 sq ft. 

 2. What interested you in rainwater harvesting?

I had been planting some plants and just wanted to find a way to more easily provide water to my plants. I also thought rainwater harvesting would be better for the Earth. 

 3. How did you discover our program?

I was checking out different things. I saw Tucson Water had the rebate and then by word of mouth from one of the rainwater harvesting suppliers I found out about your program. I took an online workshop last year in 2020; normally the workshops were in-person. I then contacted your office.

4. Through our program what installations did you have done in your backyard?

I had gutters, a 1,500 gallon tank (tan brown colored) and a passive garden installed with mulch and other materials. Right now I have a hose connected to my tank. My passive garden is located right by my tank in the backyard. Your team helped with the layout and supplied the mulch and rock. 5. What made our program stand out from others in the community? 

There isn’t anything else that I know of other than the rebate from Tucson Water’s website. I was able to access the grant plus what your program offered. I noticed your program had grant money and loan and offered a passive garden too which I thought was a really nice thing. Your program is for pretty low-income residents so I would have never been able to do any of this. Ironically the tree and four plants that I purchased for $300-$400 were more than I spent on the whole project. It was down to $150 I ended-up owing for the whole thing after everything said and done for with the loan. 

6. What are the outcomes and benefits of your rainwater harvesting installations?

Before rainwater harvesting I didn’t do anything before because frankly there wasn’t anything back there and I hated it but now I love it. In the future I will eventually not have to use so much regular water. The outside of my yard is getting better with gardening. Right now I have some lavender, Texas ranger and ice plants. I planted one tree which looks like a stick right now but when it starts growing and getting bigger it will be eventful. I want to plant loofahs; they grow on a vine. My sister already planted her loofah seeds. She kind of does the same work I do. Once my rainwater harvesting systems have collected enough water, I can see my backyard as a space I could spend more time in. Maybe I will get some outdoor furnishings (e.g., a bench, outdoor dining set, repurposed doors) but money is limited so it will depend. As a massage therapist and for personal interest I do herbal remedies so my hopes are to make a garden that I can use to make stuff. I just planted some marigolds and have some lavenders in my garden which have good medicinal properties. I already started making some oils. My yard will be pretty but also for my business. I’m pretty excited! These endeavors would have easily been $3,000 – $4,000, no way could we have done it without your team and Tucson Water.

 7. Would you recommend our program to others? Why? 

Oh definitely! I already recommended my sister, and she is checking your program out. Your team has been nice and I think it’s a good program for people to achieve something they may not have been able to without your program.

8. Anything else you would like to tell us? 

Check out the program, it’s good! It really benefits people in general and if everyone in the neighborhood did it gosh think what everyone’s backyards would look like. 

Remember making the most of your backyard and helping reduce urban temperatures starts with you! 

Tucson residents can learn about our Limited-Income Rainwater Harvesting Loan and Grant Program.
To get started attend a workshop.
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