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How A Little Rainfall Can Turn Into A Bountiful Resource

Overview of Lancaster-Homestead Water-Harvesting Strategies

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San Diegans will spend much of this month and the next watching the skies, hoping for a decent rain season, both here and in the Northern California mountains, which still supplies much of our water supply.

But we may not have to spend all of our time just hoping. Innovative water harvesting techniques have the potential of turning even a little rainfall into a bountiful resource.

Rainwater Lecture

Author Brad Lancaster will give tips on how to use rainwater and gray water for local harvests.

When: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday

Where: Leichtag Foundation Ranch, 441 Saxony Road, Encinitas

Brad Lancaster is the author of the book, "Rainwater Harvesting for Dry Lands and Beyond." He's giving a lecture in Encinitas on Thursday night about strategies for harvesting natural resources such as rainwater and greywater.

"We can harvest water for no more than the cost of a shovel by harvesting that rainwater, not only in barrels, but even in the soil," Lancaster told KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday. "I love looking to the free water falling from the sky and being delivered to us free of charge. It's a great opportunity for when it does fall to catch it."

Lancaster, who lives in Tucson, Arizona, said every year he's able to harvest more than 100,000 gallons of rainwater at his home.

"More rain falls on our desert community than people consume in a year," Lancaster said. "Every drop of rain that falls on our eighth of an acre, we harvest in tanks or soil."

The effort has been transformative, both at Lancaster's home and in his neighborhood. When Lancaster bought his property in 1993, the home was on the verge of being condemned.

"It was a solar oven-like experience," he said.

Lancaster organized an annual tree-planting project in the neighborhood. Over a 10-year period, he said he was able to convert the neighborhood through the simple planting of trees and harvesting of rain.

"Crime has dropped and now two dozen native bird species live here because we have regrown their habitat," Lancaster said.

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