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Office of the State Engineer

Water Use & Conservation

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting refers to the capture,diversion, and storage of rainwater for landscape irrigation and other uses, and canbe an effective water conservation tool. It can be incorporated into large-scale landscapes, such as parks, schools, commercial sites, parking lots, and apartment complexes, as well as small-scale residential landscapes.

Some harvesting systems can be very simple, consisting of a roof catchment area, 55-gallon rain barrels, and garden hoses. Other systems are much morecomplex and include large cisterns and piped distribution systems. Costs vary greatly also, depending upon the type of system chosen.

Most homeowners can install and use a rainwater harvesting system for landscape irrigation without public health and water rights concerns. For larger-scale commercial projects, it is a good idea to check with the local OSE Water Rights Division to make sure the project does not inappropriately affect rainwater runoff into a stream system, therefore impacting a public water supply. Also, contact the local New Mexico Environment Department regarding any potential public health concerns. Please see Policy Development for the official policy on rainwater harvesting.

For more information on determining the amount of water you can collect, the types of systems to consider, and how to build, install, and maintain a rainwater harvesting system, consult Roof Reliant Landscaping Manual, Rainwater Harvesting, Supply from the Sky, a publication of the City of Albuquerque or a Waterwise Guide to Rainwater Harvesting.

Check local plant nurseries, hardware stores/suppliers, landscape contractors, or Internet sources for rain barrel suppliers.

Consult the following pages for more information on rainwater harvesting:

Texas Guide to Rainwater Harvesting - A complete how-to booklet including water quality and cost considerations from the Texas Water Development Board

International Rainwater Catchment Systems Association - Association of individuals and professionals who are dedicated to the promotion of rainwater harvesting.