Texas Rain Catcher Award April 2011

Before the advent of large, centralized water supply systems, people relied on rainwater harvesting for their household, landscape, livestock and agricultural needs. Due to the escalating environmental and economic costs of modern-day water supplies, rainwater harvesting is making a comeback.

To recognize excellence in the application of rainwater harvesting systems throughout the state, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) awards the annual Texas Rain Catcher Award. The brainchild of Dr. Sanjeev Kalaswad of the Innovative Water Technologies division at the TWDB, the award was established in 2007 as an outreach and educational tool to promote and educate the public about rainwater harvesting. While the goal of the program is to identify, recognize, and promote excellent rainwater harvesting practices, Sanjeev's vision is for individuals and entities from all across the state and from all sectors of society who are involved in rainwater harvesting to share and learn from their experiences for the benefit of the entire rainwater harvesting community.

For the past three years, winners of the award have been chosen in categories including residential, commercial/industrial, and educational/governmental. At the discretion of the judging committee, additional categories are added. At its March 2011 meeting, the Texas Water Development Board awarded the 2010 Texas Rain Catcher Award to the Community Resource and Recreation Center in Canyon Lake (commercial/industrial category), the Katherine Anne Porter School in Wimberley (education category), Texas A&M University's Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building in College Station (government category), and the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Kerrville (non-profit category).

Rainwater harvesting is an important water conservation tool and a valuable source of water supply. In some areas of Texas, for example the Hill Country, it may be the only or the most economical source of water available to people. In other areas, it may be the preferred source of water because of its inherently attractive qualities. Rainwater is naturally soft, has near-neutral pH, generally contains only small amounts of chemical contaminants, and requires little or no treatment prior to use. Thus, treatment costs are low.

For the state, rainwater harvesting is a water management strategy that can help conserve and supplement existing supplies. The population of Texas is expected to double over the next 50 years from almost 21 million in 2010 to over 46 million in 2060, and municipal water shortages are projected to reach almost 3.8 million acre-feet per year in 2060. Compounding the problem, existing fresh water supplies are, for a variety of reasons, expected to decrease by about 3.3 million acre-feet. To meet these shortages, the state's 16 regional water planning groups are required to consider a number of water management strategies, including rainwater harvesting, when developing their 50-year water plans.

If you are interested in harvesting rainwater, for yourself, the best way to get started is to ask a few questions: What do you intend to use the water for? How much of it do you need? Do you have the minimum system requirements, such as an appropriate collection surface and the space to install the requisite storage unit?

For more information on rainwater harvesting and for tips on installing your own rainwater harvesting system, check out the TWDB's Rainwater Harvesting website.

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