It’s been a great first week of monsoons here in the Tucson Basin. Monday evening brought the first long-awaited storm, which delivered over 1″ of rainwater in some parts of the metro area. Even after a few days of rain, the desert already looks more alive. Young seedlings are emerging from saturated ground, families of quail are running cheerfully, and Tucsonans are taking to their patios to enjoy the downpours. Everyone is happy.
The monsoons are a special part of the life processes here in Tucson. The importance of the storms is evident in our landscapes and specifically through the way we’ve learned to harvest rainwater. Landscapes are graded to create basins, swales, and berms to direct the flow of water and slow infiltration rates. Through simple earthworks, we are able to keep water in places where it’s most needed, such as areas planted with trees and shrubs. Take a drive through any Tucson neighborhood and you’ll see homeowners championing rainwater harvesting techniques in their yards. Here’s an example of a curb cut that allows much-need water to flow into a landscape rather than a storm drain.
Why do Tucsonans care so much? We only get monsoon rains twice a year, and in a desert climate, any chance to maximize water from the sky is a valuable opportunity. The City of Tucson and Tucson Water are also on board, and offer a rainwater harvesting rebate and a grant/loan for limited income families. Through an application process and a one-time workshop, residents can be reimbursed for a portion of the costs associated with implementing a rainwater harvesting system. We are lucky to live in a city where our water utility supports water conservation.
Rainwater harvesting is an integral part of design here at Wheat Design Group. Whether it’s a roadway project or a residential landscape, we actively design with the intention of harvesting rainwater and creating desert-appropriate spaces. Grading for water harvesting creates varied and interesting landscapes that become both beautiful and functional. When the monsoons arrive, we are able to celebrate the thought we’ve put into our sustainable designs.
Happy Monsoons from WDG!