Assignment Texas: with Russell A. Graves- When it Rains

By contributing writer Russell Graves
The sound of rain dappling the surrounding prairie is a welcome one. For the past few years, the people in Childress County (and most of the rest of Texas) have endured a horrendous drought. In casual conversation, people quizzically wondered aloud when it would rain again and with a certain degree of credibility, questioned if it would rain again.
Drought, according to climatologists, is cyclical. They’ve happened to Texas before and they’ll happen again.
This latest drought has taught Texans a lot about water usage and ultimately, water conservation. Some of those conservation lessons were learned long ago and are being re-adopted.
Drive through West Texas farm country and take a close look at some old farmsteads. Many times you’ll see an old metal cistern behind the homes. The cisterns were there to catch and store rain when it fell for use during the times when the rain did not fall.
Feeling like a modern pioneer, when I built my new home on a piece of rural ground where a house had never stood, I wanted to incorporate old technology into my new design. So I had my friend Gary Clark of Clark ETS, help me design and install a small system that would harvest and store the rainfall from only a single side of one roof.
Unlike the pioneers of old, my captured rainfall will not serve to provide drinking or toilet water for my family. Instead, I’ll use it to water a small vineyard and other landscape features scattered about the yard. That’s important to me considering I suspect that the water district’s restrictions that currently guide our irrigation practices will probably remain the norm from now on. To have any semblance of a landscape, I need to be able to provide my own water and not rely on the rural water system that supplies the house proper.
According to Clark, one square foot of roof captures just over a half a gallon of water with every inch of rain. Therefore, figuring out how much rain your roof will catch becomes a simple math problem. To read more pick up the August 2014 issue of North Texas Farm & Ranch.

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