Tucson woman creates water harvesting oasis, others eligible for rebate

Published: Aug. 3, 2023 at 7:14 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - With monsoon in full swing, some folks in Southern Arizona are taking advantage of the rain and collecting the water for future use.

One woman in Tucson collects rainwater in a traditional cistern, but she took it one step further.

Martha Retallick has been living in Tucson for 20 years. Originally from Pennsylvania, she wanted her home to have that lush green feel. But it took quite some time to get to where she is today.

“When I first saw this property, there was no landscaping here. There was crushed rock in the front yard and Bermuda grass in the backyard,” said Retallick.

“And shortly before I moved in a friend and I came over here, and she looked at the front yard and said, this is your palate, and I was inspired.”

Adjusting to the new climate was a rough start. After a failed attempt at planting agave, Retallick slowly learned new knowledge and built up her skills.

Today, most of Retallick’s water for her garden is collected on her 500 square-foot roof, where just one inch of rain provides 250 gallons of water in her storage tank. Her laundry also helps out too. Wastewater from the washing machine is pumped out to the backyard to water her bushes.

In Retallick’s front yard, trees receive rainwater using her homemade basins, which she fills with mulch to slow evaporation.

Retallick’s garden isn’t the only green she’s seeing. Her water harvesting brings a rebate from Tucson Water.

To qualify, you must take a workshop and then submit your plans to Tucson Water. You may earn up to $2,000.

“It’s good practice because it will teach you some additional principles, and the maintenance of it. In addition to that, even if you are already harvesting water, there is still an available rebate for you if you come to the class,” said Pedro Sanchez.

Sanchez is a community outreach professional with Smartscape at the Pima County and University of Arizona’s Cooperative Extension. There, classes are held for people to learn the basics of water harvesting and how they can prepare for the rebate.

Sanchez also reminds folks to have a plan for active and passive harvesting.

Another tip Martha gave is while water harvesting can get expensive, you can always start small.

If interested in learning more about the Smartscape’s free sustainability and water harvesting classes, click here. And if interested in learning more about how to earn a rebate from Tucson Water, click here.

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