The PermaCulture Center, Sunset Valley


  • Category: Commercial/Industrial
  • System Location: 12 Lone Oak Trail, Sunset Valley, TX 78745
  • Capacity: 1,750 gallons: 310 gallons for potable use and 1,440 gallons for non-potable use
  • Catchment Area 2,103 square feet of which 328 square feet is for potable use
  • Water Use: Potable and non-potable: drinking, cooking, toilet-flushing, irrigation, washing

Background and System:

The award-winning PermaCulture Center founded by Dr. J. L. Grenga is a 2,103-square foot residence-office located in Sunset Valley, Texas. The center is dedicated to educating the public about sustainable living in conventional, unimproved urban environments. The PermaCulture Center's hallmark rainwater capture system is part of an overall campaign to practice energy conservation that has resulted in a total average utility bill (water, electric, gas, trash, and sewage) of $70.84 monthly for 11 years running with no solar energy panels or similar technological upgrades.

The system is simple and consists of components that are largely locally available, easily installed, portable, and made of recycled materials. It consists of about 34 barrels of various sizes placed under downspouts that collect the rain from the metal roof at the center.

The system is driven by natural energy and does not contain expensive pumps, ultraviolet light filters or large tanks. After the first flush, water that is used for drinking and cooking is treated by the SODIS method and with Berkey filters.

Maintenance of the system requires minimal effort and takes about 10-15 minutes per week.

System Cost:

The system was designed and installed at a total cost of approximately $583.


Dr. Grenga has presented 27 public seminars on rainwater harvesting at various locations throughout Central Texas, written a book entitled "A Year of Drinking Berkey Purified Rainwater", and is a frequent open-microphone advocate at the Sunset Valley Council meetings on rainwater harvesting.


Other 2009 winners: